What is the most important part of your body? The heart, the liver, your gut, kidney, lungs or any other? Let's face it, we all need to take care of our body in totality. Every single organ is of utmost importance when it comes to the overall wellness of our body. In my opinion, while most of us pay heed to our daily diet and make it a point to live a moderately active life, we miss out on the nuances of healthy living. If you are eating right and exercising religiously but at the end of the giving in to a few drags of cigarette smoke, then the overall purpose of your religious routine may be defeated. With air pollution levels going off the roof these days, are lungs are constantly under jeopardy.
Apart from external factors like the quality of air and lifestyle patterns, some other things that can determine the pace of our lung ageing include parental smoking history, incidence of severe respiratory infection during childhood and believe it or not, the season in which one is born.
A recent study published in the journal PlosONE, focused on people aged between 40 and 70 years to find out if conditions in early life also affect the lungs' ageing. The research revealed three factors that influence ageing of the lungs: Firstly, having a mother who smoked when she was pregnant with you will affect your lungs in a negative way; secondly, if your birth happened to be during the harsh winter season. And thirdly, if you experienced a severe respiratory infection at a very young age, the study said.
People who have been exposed to these factors have a faster decline in lung function, which practically means a faster ageing process. However, this only becomes apparent if they themselves start smoking or if other risk factors have been a part of their early life, explained the researchers.
"It is logical that early life development also affects the systems that maintain our body and repair damage. If so, this could explain why some people do not tolerate exposure to certain toxics in later life. And that is actually what we found," said Cecilie Svanes, professor at the University of Bergen (UiB) in Norway.
If all this has prompted you to ascertain the age of your lungs, then all you need to do is to get a pulmonary function test. PFTs generally include two sets of tests which aim at measuring the density/volume of lungs at the same time as its capacity and strength. Some of the very basic things that one can do to ensure healthy lungs are to avoid smoking, practice deep breathing exercises, take up cardio (swimming is excellent for the lungs), stay in a clean environment, avoid passive smoking and of course, eat healthy.
Inputs from IANS