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Asthma Treatment: Diet

An important part of any healthy lifestyle is good nutrition. Good nutrition includes choosing healthy foods that can work to heal and repair your body and make it more disease resistant.

Asthma and Food Allergies

6-8 % of children and 2-4% of adults suffer from food allergies, in a landmark survey of asthmatic in the U.K., 66% said that they experience exacerbation of asthma symptoms with certain foods. The most common foods that produce allergies in sensitive individuals are given below.

For Children:

  • Eggs
  • Tree nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Fish
  • Shellfish

For Adults:

  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Wheat

Asthma Diet

Nutrition Management - Eating with Asthma

Many people with chronic lung disease such as asthma feel more short of breath when their stomach is full. This is because the diaphragm can not work as well when the stomach is full. You can satisfy your nutritional needs, keep your stomach comfortable and help your diaphragm to work better by eating smaller, more frequent meals. Small, frequent meals also reduce the chance of reflux. Here are more suggestions of helpful eating and cooking habits when living with asthma:

  • Plan to eat before you are too hungry or tired. Refuel before you hit empty.
  • Breathe evenly while you are chewing and eating. Stop eating if you need to catch your breath. Relax at mealtime.
  • Double or triple your favorite recipes to keep your freezer full for times when you do not feel like cooking.
  • Do the tasks that require the most effort when you have the most energy. For example, many people would agree that grocery shopping is a tiring task. This chore can be done when you feel freshest, in the morning or after a rest. Better yet, have a friend or family member pick up your groceries for you!
  • Don't stand in the kitchen when you can sit. Bring your chopping, cutting and mixing projects over to the kitchen table and sit while you prepare the food, or keep a bar stool by the kitchen counter.
  • Avoid that "too full" feeling by eating less of the foods that cause gas.

Foods to Avoid

The following foods are common offenders. Keep a food diary to find out if they are a problem for you.

  • Asparagus
  • Beans (pinto, kidney, navy, black)
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Melons
  • Garlic
  • Onions (raw)
  • Peas (split, black eye)
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Rutabagas
  • Sausage
  • Spicy foods
  • Turnips

General Nutrition tips for Asthma

The USDA and the US Department of Health and Human Services have redeveloped the Food Guide Pyramid to educate Americans about healthy eating. You may be familiar with the old Food Guide Pyramid, or its predecessor the Four Basic Food Groups. The new symbol, called "MyPyramid", represents a personalized approach to eating a healthy diet and staying active through physical activity.

While the new food guidelines emphasize a personalized approach, here are some additional tips:

Include a variety of foods in your diet. Each of the food groups provides nutrients that are important to you, and foods in one group can't replace those in another. Try to include each of the food groups in your daily diet.

Choose a variety of foods within each food group and eat small amounts of fats, oils and sweets, and include essential fatty acids (EFAs) from flax, sesame oil and fish in your diet.

Talk with your health care provider about your specific nutritional needs. Eating a healthy diet can help you feel and breathe better.

References

Staff. 2010. National Jewish Health. (Online) http://www.nationaljewish.org/healthinfo/conditions/asthma/lifestyle-management/nutrition/steroids-nutrition.aspx accessed 02.01.10

Michael Radcliffe, M.D. 2009. Asthma and Food. (Online) http://www.allergyclinic.co.uk/asthmaandfood.htm accessed 02.01.10

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