Dealing with Asthma- Do’s and Don’ts

This article is authored by Karishma Chawla. She is a practising nutritionist and a weight loss expert..

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects your ability to breathe. Asthma is usually triggered by a mix of environmental factors and genetic factors. It is often defined as the swelling and constricting of the lungs. Early symptoms include coughing, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, fatigue, tightness in the chest and anxiety. Severe symptoms include difficulty in walking or talking, severe difficulty in breathing, fever, chest pain, rapid pulse and discoloured lips, face or nails. Common triggers are seasonal allergies, upper respiratory infections, pollution, mould, weather changes, dust mites, cockroaches, stress and exercise.

Diet for asthma patients

Eating a balanced diet is of the essence. The following serves as the best foods for asthma patients.

  • Complex carbohydrates such as amaranth, jowar, bajra, millet and red rice poha,
  • Lean protein such as eggs, chicken, fish, dals and legumes,
  • High-quality fats such as ghee, coconut oil, olive oil and raw nuts and seeds,
  • Adequate fibre and water
  • An emphasis on antioxidant-rich foods, immune-boosting foods and magnesium-rich foods

Antioxidant-rich foods such as vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, and green leafy vegetables like spinach. Immune-boosting vitamin D foods include salmon, fortified milk, and eggs. Another immune-boosting nutrient is omega 3; sources include fatty fish, walnuts and flax seeds. Magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin, and cashews are good additions to the diet. These help with adequate lung flow along with maintaining stable blood sugar levels and help with low body fat. Indian herbs and spices are excellent for digestive health and boost the immune system such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and basil. These must be consumed liberally daily.

Since gut health is closely linked to the immune system, it is worth considering gut-healing foods such as fermented vegetables such as fermented carrots and cucumbers. Also include foods rich in soluble fibre such as amaranth, high fibre fruits and vegetables.

Foods to avoid

As food allergies and sensitives can impact your asthma, it is important to avoid the following -

  • Look for individual food sensitivities. The most common ones can be wheat, dairy, shellfish and nuts.
  • Avoid foods that can cause indigestion like gas, these include cabbage, onions, carbonated drinks and fried foods
  • Avoid foods with sulfites; these are often found in wine, dried fruits, pickled food

Keep an eye on health parameters

As asthma can be a chronic condition, it is important to monitor the following health parameters

  • Blood pressure
  • Adequate cholesterol levels
  • Healthy liver functions
  • Ideal vitamin status like vitamin D and B12
  • Improved digestion
  • Stable immune function

A healthy lifestyle can help you manage asthma better. Simple steps like ensuring regular exercise such as yoga, breathing exercises, getting enough natural light and sufficient amount of sleep can improve your wellbeing significantly. As asthma can have many triggers, it is also important to take steps to keep your surroundings clean and devoid of any irritants. It can also be beneficial to use an air purifier and humidifier at home.  A healthier you will get more resilient to the condition and may even be able to prevent it altogether.

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