How to Stay Healthy, Inside and Outside

Published June 17, 2020 by Jc Drobac

Staying Healthy Indoors:

The theory is that “outside air is always cleaner than inside air.” Indoor air pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoors, and sometimes indoor pollutants exceed 100 times that of outdoor levels when measuring for the same pollutants, according to the EPA. So, good ventilation for your home and your workplace, whenever possible, is a must.

According to William J. Calhoun, MD, “Space heaters, ranges, ovens, stoves, furnaces, fireplaces, and water heaters release gases and particulates into the air.’” He adds, “There is also the fairly intense burden of allergens with indoor air quality such as pets, house dust mites. And perennial allergens are 10- to 100-fold higher indoors than out.”

Nitrogen dioxide, a gas released by stoves, is an incredibly irritating gas and creates ozone when combined with sunlight. This can cause asthma-like symptoms such as wheezing even for healthy individuals. Bad air quality can also trigger coughing, sneezing, headaches, chest tightness, and even asthma attacks.

Even new furniture often contains substances like fire retardants and stain protector sprays that are potentially harmful to our lungs/respiratory system. Many of these substances contain carcinogens—chemicals that have been found to cause cancer in humans. So the next time you buy new furniture, rugs or curtains, consider declining the option of applying this added chemical coating. (You can also rent a carpet cleaner with attachment after purchasing new items, and steam clean to remove as many carcinogens as possible).

Protect your respiratory system!

Other ways to avoid harmful pollutants indoors:

  • Avoid plug-in or battery-operated air fresheners and scented candles, since both can questionably cause cancerous DNA mutations and asthma.
  • Avoid aerosols (e.g. room deodorizers, perfumes, hair sprays), some of which are carcinogenic, and contain small particles that when inhaled can irritate the lining of the lungs.
  • Use unscented or very lightly scented laundry detergents—or try using no laundry detergent, since most of the cleaning of clothes is accomplished by the immersion and agitation in water, which is the healthier option both for us and the environment, and avoid detergents with the chemical “1,4-Dioxane,” which can cause vertigo, drowsiness, headaches, and irritate the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and lungs,
  • Don’t buy or use flushable wipes! Despite their claims, they do not actually break down and actually clog the septic systems. They eventually end up in our oceans, harming the wildlife and our water quality.
  • Keep your cleaning products in a covered container. Small particles, especially from cleansers, can get embedded in our lungs.
  • Use air purifiers to help clean the air, and rinse filters weekly.
  • Keep a window at least 1" open in most rooms, year-round, for better air ventilation.
  • Vacuum regularly to suck up dust from furnaces, pet dander, and even irritants brought in from air conditioners. Shake out your smaller rugs outside.
  • Get plenty of water. The general rule of thumb is to drink half of your weight in ounces daily. For example, a 100-pound person should aim for 50 ounces of pure, fresh water every day—more if working out, or on humid days. The membranes or air sacs in our lungs, called villi, rely on hydration to sustain and help our body perform continuous self-cleaning. And all organs rely heavily on fresh clean water to help them function at their best. (And, no, sadly, there is NOT enough water in the foods we eat to provide this, including coffee, milk, beer, etc.)
  • Avoid plug-in air fresheners and car air fresheners. These are not as beneficial as they may seem. One of the primary concerns of health experts about plug-in air fresheners is their wide-spread use of phthalates. The NRDC also warns that airborne phthalates can cause allergic symptoms and asthma. Even trace amounts of phthalates can accumulate to cause these harmful side-effects.
  • Help Fluffy or Fido avoid in-home dangers: avoid salt lamps if you have pets (as many veterinarians will tell you) since pets may be tempted to lick the salt lamp, which can cause sodium poisoning and result in extreme sickness or death.
  • Maintain your A/C unit. While we love the convenience of air conditioning on the hottest days, it’s not without risks. Filters can be breeding grounds for bacteria, fungi or black mold. It’s called “air conditioner sickness,” and can be mistaken for the common cold, allergy or asthma symptoms, with symptoms like breathing problems, headaches, dizziness, dry skin and sinuses, heat intolerance, even increased blood pressure. By cleaning our AC units regularly, changing the filter at least every couple of months, keeping the temperature at a comfortable but not freezing level, and taking frequent breaks to step outside for fresh air can help keep our lungs healthy while being comfortable.

Foods Supporting Healthy Lung & Kidneys Function:

This is very important because they work together as a team!

Fatty Fish

Fish high in fat is an excellent choice of food for healthy lungs as they contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids which are linked with lung health.


Apples are the food for adults who want healthy lungs. A team from St George’s Hospital Medical School, London, studied the diets and lung function of more than 2,500 men aged 45-49. They found that good lung function was associated with high intakes of vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene, citrus fruits, apples, and fruit juices.


Apricots are associated with healthy lungs due to their vitamin A content. The Office of Dietary Supplements notes that vitamin A supports respiratory tract linings, and may lower the risk of lung infections.


Broccoli is a highly antioxidant green vegetable with a “pro-lung” compound (called sulforaphane), making it a powerhouse vegetable for good lung health -- especially helpful for individuals with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder).


Chicken, turkey, and other small poultry birds can benefit your lungs, too, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. These foods are high in lung health since they boost vitamin A, and, it’s suggested that our bodies may absorb animal-based versions of vitamin A better than plant-based versions.



Walnuts are a vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating regular servings of walnuts — about one handful daily — may help fight asthma and other respiratory ailments according to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.



According to the American Cancer Society, beans can support lung health. Kidney, pinto, black and other beans are good sources of antioxidants, which fight off free radicals that may damage lungs.



Berries are rich in antioxidants, which the American Cancer Society notes protects lungs. Acai and blueberry are two of the top sources, but cranberries, grapes, and strawberries are also good for the lungs.

Maintaining A Healthy Respiratory System Outside:

Strengthen your immune system in the proven, most effective way there is: exercise! Start small with a stroll around your neighborhood or walk your dog to get yourself going. As you get more comfortable exercising (you might already be there) work up to fast-paced activities that elevate your heart rate and make you sweat to really stimulate your lymphatic system. Remember to stay within a safe pace for our heart rates by only exerting ourselves to where we are still able to comfortably carry on a conversation. Brisk exercise (ideally 300 minutes per week, which translates to 5 one-hour sessions) helps our bodies correct sickness and avoid diseases most efficiently. 

Remember to avoiding exercising near heavy traffic to decrease the amount of exhaust inhaled.  Steer clear of chemically treated lawns, which are known carcinogens (cancer-causing) and endocrine disruptors, which can harm our metabolic systems and create auto-immune disorders!

Easy, immune-boosting activities to enjoy this summer:

  • Try speed walking with a friend through your neighborhood, making a point to include areas with steeper hills to get a good workout. Walk as fast as you can while still being able to maintain a conversation.
  • Bicycling is great for really moving that lymphatic fluid throughout the body, strengthening our natural immune system naturally.
  • Grab a friend and play really bad tennis together. Or utilize the single-player wall on the outside of many tennis courts (or your garage door) and swing that racket to elevate your respiration.
  • Buddy up with a motivated neighbor for aerobics, tai chi, boot camp, or any kind or cardio workout in your homes or garages.
  • Try to avoid chemically treated lawns while exercising outside whenever possible.

Remember, as always, the best defense is a good offense! It's better and MUCH less stressful to continually work on improving our health and maintaining vibrant and powerful immune systems, now and always. Don't live in continual fear of the possibility of sickness, especially since stress from worry can make us more vulnerable to getting sick!

You’re doing GREAT! Keep going!