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Can Baking Soda Clean Your Lungs?

Years of inhaling cigarette smoke, pollution, and other toxins can leave you longing for a way to cleanse your lungs. The idea of using various products to detoxify and refresh your respiratory system might be tempting. Among these, you might have heard about baking soda as a potential solution. But can baking soda clean your lungs?

Let’s dive into what science says and explore practical steps you can take to maintain healthy lungs.

Understanding Lung Damage and Repair

Lung Detox

Freepik | garakta_studio | After 20 years of quitting, the risk of COPD equals that of a nonsmoker.

Lungs are resilient organs. “If you have an acute illness, such as pneumonia or acute bronchitis, in most cases, the lungs will fully recover,” says Norman Edelman, MD, a professor of medicine at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. However, chronic injuries like those caused by years of smoking present a different challenge. Smoking leads to two primary types of long-term lung damage: emphysema and chronic bronchitis, collectively known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Types of Lung Damage from Smoking

  • Emphysema: The tiny air sacs responsible for oxygen exchange are destroyed and cannot be replaced.
  • Chronic Bronchitis: This condition causes inflammation of the airways leading to the air sacs. While some inflammation from bronchitis can subside, structural damage remains.

Benefits of Quitting Smoking

  • 20 years after quitting: The risk for COPD drops to the level of someone who never smoked.
  • 10 years after quitting: The risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half compared to a smoker.
  • 30 years after quitting: The risk of lung cancer drops to nonsmoking levels.

Essential Tips for Protecting Your Lungs

1. Avoid Secondhand Smoke

Quitting smoking is crucial, but avoiding secondhand smoke is equally important. The smoke from the end of a cigarette and the smoker’s exhalation contains hundreds of toxic chemicals, which can cause lung cancer, stroke, and other diseases.

2. Steer Clear of Vaping

Freepik | Research suggests vaping harms lung mucus clearance, raising infection risks, but long-term effects are under study.

While the long-term risks of e-cigarettes are still being studied, research indicates that vaping can impair your lungs’ ability to clear mucus, increasing the risk of infections. “The only thing you should inhale into your lungs is pure, clean air and prescribed medications,” emphasizes Edelman.

3. Steam Therapy

Though inhaling warm steam might help with mucus clearance in the upper airways during a respiratory infection, it doesn’t improve lung function. “Steam may be helpful for improving the clearance of mucus from your upper airways, including the nose and throat, during a respiratory infection, but it doesn’t make the lungs work better,” explains Englert.

4. Avoid Pollution

Indoor and outdoor pollution can harm your lungs. The American Lung Association recommends testing your home for radon, a toxic gas that can cause lung cancer. Regularly vacuum your home with a HEPA filter and use cleaning products free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), fragrances, and irritants. Tracking local air quality and avoiding outdoor activities on high pollution days can also help, especially for those with chronic respiratory diseases.

5. Exercise for Lung Health

Cardiovascular exercise can improve lung function by making the heart and muscles more efficient, reducing the demand on the lungs during physical activity. “It also makes the heart and muscles more efficient, so when you do physical activity, there is less demand on the lungs, so you feel better and breathe more easily,” says Edelman.

6. Healthy Diet and Antioxidants

Freepik | Eating lots of fruits and veggies, especially leafy greens and berries, can help reduce smoking and air pollution damage.

A diet rich in antioxidants can help protect your lungs. Consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy greens and berries, may mitigate some damage caused by smoking and air pollution.

Some studies suggest that green tea, known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, may lower the risk of COPD, though the evidence is not definitive.

Can Baking Soda Clean Your Lungs?

The concept of using baking soda to clean your lungs is intriguing, but there is no scientific evidence to support this practice. While baking soda has various health benefits when used correctly, its application for lung detox is not validated by research. It’s essential to rely on proven methods to protect and maintain lung health rather than unverified remedies.

While you may be tempted by products and remedies that claim to detox your lungs, the most effective strategies involve avoiding further harm and promoting overall lung health through proven practices. Focus on quitting smoking, avoiding pollutants, maintaining a healthy diet, and regular exercise to keep your lungs as healthy as possible.

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