NUTRITION: Diet & Lifestyle Tips to Reduce Asthma | Great Health Guide
NUTRITION: Diet & Lifestyle Tips to Reduce Asthma

NUTRITION: Diet & Lifestyle Tips to Reduce Asthma

‘Diet & Lifestyle Tips to Reduce Asthma’ by Robbie Clark published in Great Health Guide (Mar 2016). Asthma is a chronic condition that as many as 1 in 10 people suffer from it. Asthma can be treated with medication however studies have shown that this condition can be controlled with proper diet & reducing allergens in the environment. Find out how you can reduce the occurrence of asthma today.
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NUTRITION: Diet & Lifestyle Tips to Reduce Asthma

written by Robbie Clark

If you don’t have asthma, there’s a good chance you know someone who does, with one in 10 people suffering from the chronic condition. Asthma occurs when the airways to the lungs are obstructed and become inflamed leading to shortness in breath, wheezing, coughing and a tight chest. While asthma can be treated using medication, it is also recommended that an asthmatic should have a nutritious diet and a low allergen environment to reduce the effects. 

What are the causes?

The most common cause of asthma is allergic reactions and sensitivities to a range of environmental triggers such as cigarette smoke, pollen, dust, animal hair, as well as certain foods. Ideally, someone who experiences asthma should try to live a low or allergen free environment to reduce the chances of an episode. A doctor is able to identify certain triggers for asthmatics and can develop a medication plan to deal with maintenance and the periodic occurrence of episodes. 

Targeted Nutrients for Asthmatics:

1. Vitamin D plays a vital role in regulating a broad range of immune processes and anti-inflammatory reactions. Vitamin D can be taken as a supplement but is best achieved by absorbing sunlight on the arms and legs, either early in the morning or afternoon for 10-20 minutes. 

2. Antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium. Since asthma is an inflammatory condition, antioxidants are important to counteract these effects and act as an anti-inflammatory, which may help reduce bronchoconstriction.

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3. Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, chia seeds and flaxseeds are naturally anti-inflammatory and should be included in a balanced diet. Be careful with allergies to nuts even though they are a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

4. Probiotics help to protect and strengthen the gut where 70% of the immune system resides. Probiotics work by modulating the immune response and inflammatory processes. 

5. Magnesium is an important mineral for the body and may assist with relaxation of bronchial smooth muscles. A rich source of magnesium can be found in spinach, nuts and seeds, avocados and whole grains.

6. Curcumin is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory agents available and is also a strong antioxidant. Curcumin comes from the ground root of the Tumeric plant. It is fat-soluble and is poorly absorbed in the body unless mixed with pepper or oil. 

Lifestyle and Diet Suggestions:

If you’re an asthma sufferer, there are some key lifestyle changes and diet suggestions which will help reduce and prevent asthmatic episodes.

Lifestyle suggestions for a low allergen environment:

  • Establish or maintain a low allergen environment, which may mean additional cleaning of floors, rugs, carpets, towels and linen 

  • Cover pillows and mattresses with plastic or hypo-allergenic covers

  • Use synthetic materials such as foam mattresses or acrylics instead of animal products like wool, goose down or horsehair 

  • Minimise dust-collecting household items, i.e. carpets, cushions, rugs and curtains 

  • Regularly wash soft toys used by children

  • Installing an air purifier or a dust filter may also help

Diet suggestions:

  • Reduce pro-inflammatory foods in the diet including saturated fats in meats, poultry and dairy

  • Avoid refined and prepacked foods with many added ingredients for colour, flavour and extended shelf life. 

  • Especially cut down on sugar; this is known to cause inflammation of the joints and bowel

  • Patients sensitive to antibiotics should eat only organic meats to avoid antibiotic residues

  • Avoid foods with a high content of mould or leftover food, yeasts, pickled vegetables and vinegars

  • Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, as they contain antioxidants, phytonutrients and bioflavonoids

  • Eliminate any known food allergies or sensitivities

Despite asthma being labelled as a chronic condition, it is possible to reduce the triggers if a healthy lifestyle is practiced. Creating a safe and allergen free environment will also help to reduce the rate of episodes. Always keep medication on hand as well and be sure to let friends, family and employers be aware of the condition. 

Author of this article:
Robbie Clark is a Sydney based dietician and sports nutritionist who has been in the industry for over 10 years. He is regularly featured as an expert in the media and he has recently co-founded a website with nutritionist Pip Reed. Robbie has a ‘no fuss’ and ‘everything in moderation’ approach to diet and nutrition and feels that diets are usually over complicated and unrealistic for people to follow and/or sustain. He believes in educating people to get back to the basics, to gain a healthy metabolism, more energy, more muscle, less fat, improved hormone balance and a positive mindset when it comes to food. 

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