What Is COPD?
COPD, short for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder, is an obstructive lung disease associated with poor airflow and serious breathing problems. Shortness of breath and excessive production of mucus are the two main symptoms of the disease. COPD is usually caused by smoking, with genetics and air pollution also play a role.
COPD affects around 2.4% of the world’s population and is more common in people over 40. It kills millions of people around the world each year and is quite difficult and costly to treat. According to estimates in 2010, the disease caused an economic cost of 2.1 trillion.
The COPD Epidemic
COPD is actually an umbrella term for bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, and bronchiectasis. It is closely connected to emphysema and bronchitis, with some doctors still using those terms to describe the condition. It’s the 5th leading cause of death around the world, with millions of people being misdiagnosed with bronchitis instead of COPD.
Bronchitis is a condition triggered by inflammation in the lining of the bronchial tubes which causes shortness of breath and other symptoms. It often leads to chest infections and may also cause wheezing and fatigue.
Emphysema is a condition that involves the destruction of the tiny air sacs in the air passages of the lungs. Over time, the air sacs will diminish in number, resulting in shortness of breath, fatigue, and even death.
Both conditions are dangerous but can be treated if caught on time. When it comes to COPD, treatment is much harder. Conventional medicine still hasn’t found a way to reverse the damage done by COPD. Most doctors don’t believe that the damaged tissue can be regenerated, leaving palliative care and quitting smoking as the only two possible options for treatment.
Steroids, inhalers, oxygen treatments, and other drugs are simply ineffective against COPD, not to mention that they cost taxpayers a whole lot of money. However, recent studies may have found a way to treat the disease.
Can the Damaged Lung Tissue Be Regenerated?
Doctors Gloria de Carlo and Donald Massaro recently conducted an interesting study at the Georgetown University School of Medicine that may have found a way to reverse emphysema in rats. The study tested the effects of an experimental “drug”, a derivative of vitamin A known as all-trans-retinoic acid or ATRA.
The results were incredible. ATRA helped the mice grow new alveoli, effectively neutralizing the effects of the disease. Previous studies have revealed that lack of vitamin A may be the cause behind emphysema, but it didn’t see the light of day until the Georgetown study. Previously, cigarette smoking has been considered the primary cause of emphysema. However, as a 2003 study led by Richard C. Baybutt revealed, vitamin A deficiency is the cause, and cigarettes may only be the vehicle.
Of course, more clinical trials are needed before anything can be concluded. ATRA has helped up to a point, but medicine needs human clinical trials to really put it to the test. Surprisingly, there have been a few in the USA with positive results.
The results of these trials were quite surprising, helping the patients regrow new alveoli and negating all the damage done by emphysema.
Beta Carotene and Vitamin A
You probably have already heard about beta carotene. The carotenoid is what gives carrots and cantaloupe their color and has a number of positive effects on our health. When we consume carrots or any other vegetable full of beta carotene, the body converts it to vitamin A. As we already mentioned, vitamin A can prevent emphysema and COPD, while also having a number of other purposes.
If you want to raise your vitamin A levels, the best way to do it is naturally – by consuming foods rich in it. However, be moderate about it. High doses of vitamin A, especially if taken in the form of a supplement, can be quite dangerous. So, instead of getting it via supplements, get vitamin A through your food.
Beta-carotene-rich foods are best consumed fresh, not cooked. However, they won’t lose a lot of the carotenoid even if you cook them lightly. Juicing is another great way of boosting your vitamin A reserves. In the end, how you raise your vitamin A level is up to you.
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