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Respiratory Health: How to Build A Resilient Lung Microbiome

Woman at the beach, demonstrating healthy lifestyle and healthy gut

On a recent trip to Ghana, I was exposed to a combination of pollution and Harmattan dust winds which exacerbated my asthma. While it is evident that the air quality driving along long dusty roads was hurting my lungs, I was curious if the stress of travel and an upset digestive system could contribute to my respiratory problems. 

Mucosal surfaces in the lungs are exposed to the external environment and are highly susceptible to pollution and bacterial and viral infections. But research shows that lung health can also be influenced from within. It appears that the gut and even our state of mind impact lung health through a pathway that links the brain, gut, and lungs called the gut-brain-lung axis.

Immunity and the Lung Microbiome

From the moment we take our first breath, our microbiome starts to shape,  influenced by the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the environment we live in. These trillions of microorganisms – bacteria, viruses, and fungi – interact with our immune system in the gut, skin, and lungs.

Our immune system is our surveillance mechanism that continuously processes the information our microbiomes translate from environmental stimuli.  Living in an urban environment brings challenges that require us to take extra measures to support our health, including our lungs, so our immune system keeps us well protected.

a couple relaxing by floating in the ocean, relaxed and breathing deeply,

How does stress influence Lung Health?

Stress weakens lung immunity. A research paper published in Thorax 2006 showed that negative emotions such as anger, sadness, and anxiety increased pro-inflammatory messengers triggering asthma and increased susceptibility to viral infections.1

These observations were made in Traditional Chinese Medicine centuries ago, connecting organ health to emotions. Persistent Lung conditions are associated and aggravated with unprocessed grief and sadness.  

How does pollution affect our Lungs?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nine-tenths of the world's population breathes polluted air, which claims the lives of 7 million people every year globally. Poor air quality causes lung inflammation and scarring. Cigarette smoke is the leading cause of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and mycotoxins from fungal spores affect people living in damp buildings. 

Airborne particulate matter such as asbestos, silica, heavy metals from paint, and additional sources of indoor air pollution also contribute to respiratory disease.2  

Recurrent bronchitis episodes not responding to antibiotics or even the best herbal therapies may require a careful evaluation of the air quality in our homes and workplace.

Keep a clean home, wash linens, vacuum, dust, and replace air filters regularly. Consider wearing a mask in polluted areas, traveling, and crowded places.

KAIBAE prebiotic Baobab superfood powder and a basket of organic fruits, nuts adn vegetables

Does weight gain affect the lungs?

The connections between obesity and lung problems may not initially seem so obvious. Still, the accumulation of fatty tissue in our body contributes to a low-grade state of systemic inflammation.  Obesity enhances pulmonary inflammation triggered by environmental exposures and exacerbates airway obstruction.3

Does metabolic syndrome affect my lungs?

Metabolic syndrome is initially characterized by insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. But people with average weight can have metabolic syndrome too. 

Research shows that an increased fat-mass ratio to muscle mass is the actual cause of metabolic syndrome promoting inflammation and insulin resistance. 

For the lungs, increased systemic inflammation elevates vulnerability to viral and bacteria, increasing the risk for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer.4,5,6

How does the gut microbiome contribute to lung health? 

Microbes that reside in the gut produce enzymes that convert food into metabolites and impact immune function when absorbed into the bloodstream. The gut and the lungs are connected through a complex web of immune messengers called the typical mucosal response. 

Gut microbiome imbalance has been implicated in asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis (CF), lung cancer, and respiratory infection. Living in an urban setting reduces gut microbiome diversity increasing the lungs' vulnerability to these conditions.7

Also, the recurrent use of antibiotics affects the gut and increases susceptibility to the influenza virus; vice versa, lung changes can change gut function. Research has found that lungs infected by influenza also triggered imbalances in the gut microbiome. 8

How can I improve my lung health?

William Cookson, Professor of Genomic Medicine at Imperial College London, shared in an interview with Newsweek that dietary changes could modify the severity of viral infections such as COVID-19. 

In the same article, Glenn Gibson, professor of Food Microbiology at the University of Reading, stated, "The gut microbiome is critical to health and well-being, impacting upon a variety of important disorders." Gibson says he has been advising people to take prebiotics and probiotics that boost gut microbial health "for weeks" during the Covid pandemic 9

In my opinion, as we live in a more polluted environment, taking Prebiotic fiber and Probiotics should be a part of everyone’s diet all the time.  

What is the best diet to help support lung health?

Mediterranean diet: fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, chicken and fish, and a small amount of meat.10 Unless you are allergic to any of the following, the following foods generally recommend in Traditional Chinese Medicine to improve Lung Energy/Lung Qi: garlic, sweet potato, ginger, onion, cabbage, pears, walnuts, black pepper, radish, rice, chili, leek, cardamom, miso, broccoli, cucumber, celery, and bananas.

Prebiotic fiber intake improves lung function.

Dietary fiber should be part of our diet every day. A diverse gut microbiome benefits all aspects of our health, including the lungs.11 We recommend Baobab fruit powder for weight management and healthy blood sugar.  Baobab fruit powder improves gut health and contains anti-inflammatory polyphenols and immune-enhancing vitamin C.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids reduce lung inflammation.

Adding Omega-3 fatty acids reduces inflammation and helps prevent and improve asthma and allergic diseases. Omega-3 oils are considered to have a prebiotic effect in the gut, increasing beneficial microbiota and the production of anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acids. Actually. I would recommend incorporating fatty fish or algae in your diet rich in Omega-3s 12,13

KAIBAE gut/lung resilience supplement for respiratory and immune support with capsules spilling onto table

Targeted lung support protects you from pollution and infection.

Gut/Lung Resilience is a lung supplement by KAIBAE that provides essential nutrients for a balanced gut-lung axis. A  synergistic blend of prebiotic, probiotic, and wild plant polyphenols helps defend against infection and the effects of pollution.  Baobab, combined with  Elderberry and  Pelargonium, was used for centuries by tribes in Africa to alleviate respiratory symptoms with colds and flu. Gut /Lung Resilience is a supplement to always have in your medicine cabinet and a travel companion to keep you healthy while on the go!

  • Pelargonium: Wild-harvested polyphenol lung support, mucolytic & antiviral
  • Baobab: High in vitamin C, polyphenols & prebiotic fiber to boost immunity
  • Elderberry: Rich in polyphenols, great for lung &. immune health
  • Beta-glucan; Immune enhancing prebiotic 
  • Lactospore:  Spore biotic probiotic reconditions the gut, acts as an antioxidant and supports a healthy gut environment.
Pelargonium a South African wild harvested plant with great respiratory health benefits.

    Improve your stress response for healthier lungs 

    KAIBAE's newest supplement, Stress Resilience, is a mood support supplement that promotes a healthy stress response through the gut-cortisol-brain axis. A  synergistic blend of prebiotic, probiotic, and wild polyphenols. 

    • Sceletium: Wild harvested polyphenol-rich plant helps moderate feelings of stress and anxiety.
    • Baobab: High in vitamin C, polyphenols & prebiotic fiber to boost immunity
    • Ashwagandha: Helps endurance, memory, and cognition.
    • Magnolia bark: Elevates mood and relieves pain
    • Lactospore: Spore biotic probiotic reconditions the gut, acts as an antioxidant and supports a healthy gut environment.

      Breathing exercises improve lung function.

      I recommend the Book BREATH by James Nestor. Conscious breathing has excellent health benefits, from strengthening the lungs to promoting weight loss, improving increasing energy, and calming the mind. 

      Physical exercises improve lung function.

      Physical exercise strengthens your lungs, increases lung capacity, and helps clean your lungs. Exercise also increases muscle mass and reduces insulin resistance, contributing to lung dysfunction.


      Building resilient lungs may very well be one of the most important things we can do for our health, especially now as we navigate this time of Covid, a virus that stresses our lung health, sometimes creating permanent lung damage.

      For those living in urban environments, external factors such as increased exposure to toxins and allergens make us more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections.  While wearing masks in crowded and polluted environments and adding filters to our homes and workspaces is extremely important – the key to fully supporting your respiratory health greatly depends on what we do from within! 

      Whether you live in an urban, suburban, or rural setting, healthy choices around food, exercise, stress management, and even the way you breathe all play critical roles in the health of your respiratory system.  Focusing on lung health is now more critical than ever as we all navigate the era of Covid. 

      Starting with gut health is something everyone can do. Making dietary choices rich in anti-inflammatory foods, refining your nutrient intake with prebiotic-rich Baobab Superfood Powder and Baobab Wellness Tea, and supporting the lungs from within with Gut/Lung Resilience by KAIBAE are great ways to start building healthy, resilient lungs. 

      KAIBAE microbiome wellness products targeted for respiratory and immune support and protection against colds, flus and viruses


      1. Lehrer P. Anger, stress, and dysregulation produce wear and tear on the lung. Thorax. 2006 Oct;61(10):833-4. 


      2.Wong J, Magun BE, Wood LJ. Lung inflammation caused by inhaled toxicants: a review. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2016 Jun 23;11:1391-401.

      3. Mancuso P. Obesity and lung inflammation. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2010 Mar;108(3):722-8. 

      4. Lee HY, Shin J, Kim H, Lee SH, Cho JH, Lee SY, Kim HS. Association between Lung Function and New-Onset Diabetes Mellitus in Healthy Individuals after a 6-Year Follow-up. Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2021 Dec;36(6):1254-1267.


      5. Baffi CW, Wood L, Winnica D, Strollo PJ Jr, Gladwin MT, Que LG, Holguin F. Metabolic Syndrome, and the Lung. Chest. 2016 Jun;149(6):1525-34. 


      6.Coelho CCMDS, Bragança MLBM, de Oliveira BR, Bettiol H, Barbieri MA, Cardoso VC, Silva AAMD. Incidence of metabolic syndrome in adults with healthy weight, normal weight obesity, and overweight/obesity. Nutrition. 2021 May;85:111134.

      7. Barcik W, Boutin RCT, Sokolowska M, Finlay BB. The Role of Lung and Gut Microbiota in the Pathology of Asthma. Immunity. 2020 Feb 18;52(2):241-255. 

      8. Anand S, Mande SS. Diet, Microbiota, and Gut-Lung Connection. Front Microbiol. 2018 Sep 19;9:2147. 


      9. Dhar D, Mohanty A. Gut microbiota and Covid-19- possible link and implications. Virus Res. 2020 Aug;285:198018. 

      10. Beam A, Clinger E, Hao L. Effect of Diet and Dietary Components on the Composition of the Gut Microbiota. Nutrients. 2021 Aug 15;13(8):2795.

      11. Tsai YL, Lin TL, Chang CJ, Wu TR, Lai WF, Lu CC, Lai HC. Probiotics, prebiotics, and amelioration of diseases. J Biomed Sci. 2019 Jan 4;26(1):3. 

      12. John S Kim,  Brian T Steffen,  Anna J Podolanczuk,  Steven M Kawut,  Imre Noth, Ganesh Raghu,  Erin D Michos,  Eric A Hoffman,  Gisli Thor Axelsson,  Gunnar Gudmundsson...Associations of ω-3 Fatty Acids With Interstitial Lung Disease and Lung Imaging Abnormalities Among Adults  American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 190, Issue 1, January 2021, Pages 95–108, 
      13. Vijay A, Astbury S, Le Roy C, Spector TD, Valdes AM. The prebiotic effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation: A six-week randomized intervention trial. Gut Microbes. 2021 Jan-Dec;13(1):1-11.

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