Consider the impact of COPD. More often than not, the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which impacts 3 million Americans each year, is a life changer.
Most often caused by smoking or exposure to other carcinogens, COPD causes reduced air flow to the lungs, leaving those who suffer from it short of breath, even if they are on supplementary oxygen.
It’s not a pretty picture.
According to the Mayo Clinic, about 25 percent of smokers will develop COPD. While some people’s lives aren’t severely impacted, for others, activity – and lifestyle – can be severely affected. (Ref. 1)
If you don’t want to be among those spending their golden years in a recliner channel surfacing – unable to play with grandchildren, travel or even walk to the mailbox - here’s what you need to know.
Carcinogens and cigarettes
According to studies, there are 20 known carcinogens in cigarette smoke that have been linked to lung cancer (Ref. 2) – the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States (Ref. 3) - which means that with every puff you take, you up your chances of getting the disease.
The process starts when the carcinogens damage DNA, causing a mutation of the p53 gene that is on hand to fight cancer, allowing the disease to take hold.
But here’s the good news.
If you put down your cigarettes right now – and forget those e-cigs, there are absolutely not enough studies to ensure their safety – your blood pressure will drop within 20 minutes, your carbon monoxide levels will return to normal within 12 hours and your lung function will begin to improve within two weeks to three months.
Within 10 years, your risk of lung cancer is about half that of a current smoker. (Ref. 4)
Something in the air
Of course, cigarette smoke isn’t the only carcinogen putting our lungs at risk.
Consider the poor people of New Delhi, which recently overtook Beijing as the most polluted city in the world, a dubious honor the city could have lived without. (Ref. 5)
According to experts, the air in the Indian city is 60 times more polluted than what would be considered safe to breathe, and officials have been slow in attempts to stem the escalating tide of toxins.
New Delhi absolutely gets an F on the report card when it comes to air quality, but it’s the nation’s planners that caused the problem, despite the best of intentions.
“Indian cities were originally designed as compact entities to reduce travel trip length, but with rapid urbanization and motorization, our sprawling cities are becoming victims of killer pollution, congestion ... and a crippling car-dependent infrastructure that endangers our quality of life,” according to India’s Center for Science and Environment. (Ref. 5)
So are the people of New Delhi – and anyone else subjected to air pollution, secondhand smoke and other toxins – forced to put their health and well-being at risk, just because of their surroundings?
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to protect our precious lungs, which are responsible for ensuring that oxygen reaches every cell in our body.
Fighting back against toxins
Free radicals and oxidative stress are the unfortunate result of exposure to carcinogens, and they not only contribute to premature aging, but have also been linked to a wide range of illnesses including cancer.
Antioxidants, however – the power-packed nutrients found in fruits, veggies and fish oil – can help protect against the risk factors by knocking out the damaged molecules known as free radicals, which have the potential to cause cells to either mutate or die. Antioxidants can hlpe by reducing oxidative stress. (Ref. 7)
“There is overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrating that those of us who eat a diet rich in antioxidants and take antioxidant supplements will live longer, healthier lives,” says Dr. Lester Packer, author of “The Antioxidant Miracle.” (Ref. 8)
Dr. Richard Cutler, the former director of the National Institute on Aging in Washington, D.C., took it one step further and said, “The amount of antioxidants in your body is directly proportional to how long you will live.”
Three of the most important antioxidants – vitamin E, beta-carotene and vitamin C, which also help support the health of the body’s skin cells – can all be found in a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. (Experts say eating a rainbow of colors will ensure that you’re taking in a diverse array of both nutrients and antioxidants.)
But nutrient-poor soil and produce picked before it is ready and shipped to your grocery store makes getting the right amount of each nutrient difficult.
Our Core Wellness sets – the trio of Total Balance, Omega-3 Fish Oil and Kiwi Klenz – offer antioxidants, phytonutrients, enzymes, amino acids and other essentials that help support your body’s cells and systems (such as the immune and respiratory system) to maintain healthy function.
This trio fills in the nutritional gaps that are inevitable in even the best of diets, and helps nourish our bodies with the right nutrients to support overall health and defy the aging process so you can enjoy a greater quality of life in your golden years.