Asthma is a long term disease where the air passages in the lungs get blocked as they tighten and get filled with mucus. Though there is no cure for this disease, there are ways to prevent the disease from making your life a living hell. It all starts with you and your environment and how you manage it.
There are various factors that may influence asthmatic attacks for patients. They entail:
- Sensitivity to food additives mostly sulphites,
- History of bottle feeding,
- Family history of eczema or asthma,
- Diet high in processed foods, soft drinks, sweets, dairy products, saturated fats and overeating
- Sensitivity to tobacco smoke and alcohol
- Sensitivity to salicylates found in apples, cauliflower, some shampoos, aspirin etc.
DO: Consumption of nutrient rich whole grains should be increased, in addition, vegetables and fruits consumption should be increased particularly those rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants. To reduce inflammation, the intake of oily fish which have high supply of omega 3 fatty acids should be increased.
DON’T: Processed carbohydrates, sweets and confectionery as they are likely to contain food additives and preservatives so they should be avoided.
DO: Increase intake of protein from skinless chicken and turkey, fish and from vegetables. Increased intake of live yoghurt which is a source of probiotics helps in balancing gut flora.
DON’T: Proteins attached to saturated fats found in dairy products and red meat should be avoided.
DO: Take plenty of dietary fibre from lentils, pulses, beans, fruits and vegetables.
DON’T: Saturated fats and hydrogenated fats should also be avoided as they influence inflammation. They include dairy products, red meat and margarines.
DO: 1.5litres-2 litres of water should be taken daily. The drinks should be taken away from meals and sipped slowly so as not to stress the kidneys. Variety of drinks can be taken including diluted fruit juices, herbal teas as well as organic vegetable juices.
DON’T: All soft drinks should be avoided as they may contain additives. Also alcohol consumption should be reduced and if wine is a trigger, it should be avoided altogether.
Nutrient Rich Foods for Asthmatics
Vitamin A: Liver, butter, eggs, cheese, sweet potato, dried apricots, carrots, buckwheat, and dark green vegetables.
Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, sprouted seeds, kiwi fruit, tomatoes, black currants, and peppers.
Vitamin B6: Tuna, avocados, carrots, bananas, lentils brown rice, shrimp, and salmon.
Vitamin E: Wheat germ oil, fish, nuts and seeds, eggs, green vegetables and avocados,
Magnesium: green leafy vegetables, fish, nuts and seeds, lentils, dried fruits.
Selenium: whole grain, organic meat, onions, fish, muscle meat, fruit, garlic and nuts
Zinc: Oysters, liver, eggs, brewer’s yeast, whole grains, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds.
Quercetin: Red and yellow onions, apples
Lycopene: Richest food source: tomatoes
Anti-oxidant complex: Red, orange and yellow fruit and vegetables, red berries, blueberries, blackberries, reds grapes, dark green leafy vegetables, avocados
Essential fatty acids: mackerel, tuna, salmon, trout
Lactobacillus acidophilus: live yoghurt
- Stress should be avoided at all cost. Time management is critical as it allows time to relax. Yoga classes, breathing techniques and counselling can help reduce stress.
- Exercises are very important for managing asthma. Controlled aerobics especially swimming has been proved to be beneficial for asthma patients. Breathing exercises such as balloon blowing, learning to play a wind instrument or sing is beneficial for asthmatics.
- Environmental toxins should also be avoided as they act as a trigger for immune responses associated in asthma. Airborne particulates can also act as allergens, including dander feathers and dust mites. Hypoallergenic bedding, vacuum cleaners, dust filters could be useful in reducing these possible allergens.
- To minimize the risk of an attack, foods should be small and frequent, decreasing any bronchi-constriction.