Breathe Easy

Take 10
Lie on your back flat on the floor, with one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Take a deep breath in—slowly. Lying on the floor at first when you practice is important, because if you stand up, you're more likely to fake a deep breath by doing an exaggerated chest extension, rather than letting it fill up naturally. Imagine your lungs filling up with air; it should take about five seconds to inhale. As your diaphragm pulls your chest cavity down, your belly button should move away from your spine as you fill with air. Your chest will also widen—and maybe rise ever so slightly—as you inhale. When your lungs feel full, exhale slowly—taking about seven seconds to let all the air out. Our recommendation—take 10 deep breaths in the morning, 10 at night, and as many as you need in between to help relieve stress.

Get Away from the Road
That is, if you live too close to a freeway or major road. One of the strongest toxins in the air—PM2.5—nearly doubles the risk of death stemming from respiratory causes. The biggest factor for PM2.5 other than mites inside your home: traffic density. That's why we recommend that you live at least 100 meters and preferably 300 meters from a major road (300 meters is about the size of three football fields). At the same time, encourage tougher government standards on pollution by writing the EPA, your senator, and your representative. More stringent guidelines for certain pollution (particles in the 2.5 to 10 micron range often produced by coal plants and diesel fuel) provide reasonable goals for most urban environments.

Take Supplements
Magnesium—a mineral that relaxes the bronchial tubes—can help with asthma. Take 400 milligrams a day. If you routinely produce mucus from your lungs (you cough it up, rather than mucus coming out when you blow your nose, which is usually from a sinus conditions), consider N-acetyl-cysteine. It's a substance that loosens mucus and boosts production of one of your natural antioxidant scavengers called glutathione, which helps prevent damage in lung tissue. We recommend 500 milligrams twice daily. Even caffeine can help people with asthma. Caffeine seems to stabilize and shrink the lining of the airways and dilate bronchial tubes to help make breathing easier.

Get Fruit Looped
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grain foods offers protection against chronic lung disease, just like a lot of aging-related diseases. But unlike lots of other examples, we're not exactly sure why. Nevertheless, the difference in lung disease rates between folks on the highest versus lowest quality diets was almost five-fold. So even if you are gasping, go for the nutritious goodies.