For years, I’d turned the parenting tables on my mom, lecturing her about quitting smoking. And a few months ago, she finally quit.
What at long last got her to snub out her decades-long cigarette habit? It took a terrifying episode of breathlessness, a trip to the ER, and a diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Well, better late than never, right?
But COPD is no small thing. It’s actually a big ol’ two-for-one combo of a condition. It combines chronic bronchitis with emphysema and results in coughing, wheezing, lots of phlegm, and low blood oxygen levels. It can also lead to heart failure. The heart is forced to work extra hard to get blood to the lungs. Blood that doesn’t get properly pumped may pool in the blood vessels of the legs and ankles and cause swelling.
My mom’s COPD was no doubt caused by her smoking. Smoking causes a person’s airways to get all phlegmy with excess mucus. The passageways for breath become narrower and narrower. Under those constricted, gunked-up conditions, a person becomes much more susceptible to bacterial infection - which, in turn, creates more mucus … which, in turn, creates more infection … which in turn would explain why my mom has spent the last ten years or so suffering from what seemed like one nonstop hacking, coughing bout of bronchitis.
But what does COPD and better breathing have to do with broccoli?
Now that my mom has quit smoking and is trying to manage her condition, I’ve been sending her online clippings, posting medical findings on her Facebook page. Consider it a modern, paperless version of the cut-out newspaper items her own mom, my late grandmother, used to send from Dear Abby or Ann Landers. Today I came across this one about how eating broccoli could help to lower a person’s risk of lung cancer. Even current smokers could enjoy a reduced risk if they were to regularly eat raw cruciferous vegetables.
I sent that clipping as back-up, in case this one hadn’t convinced my mom to eat her greens! In research released in September, it was found that eating broccoli could help lessen the severity of COPD in smokers. Broccoli and other cruciferous veggies are great food sources of a compound that prevents the loss of a certain kind of antioxidants that protects the lungs against inflammatory injury.
So, if you’re like me and you have a mom or dad who just can’t quite kick the habit, you can turn the parenting tables on them: Tell them to at least eat their greens!
Want to see how COPD works? Watch a descriptive video of the condition here.