3.27.2014

Eating Healthy for Asthma



Fad diets and supposed “miracle foods” may come and go, but when it comes to food, some things will never change. We’re all very busy people, so let me break it all down into some simple equations. Lots of fat in your diet = bad. Lots of fiber in your diet = good. A low-fat, high-fiber diet does wonders for your health: it cuts down significantly on GI problems like constipation and hemorrhoids, contributes to a healthy weight, and can even prevent some types of cancer. And now, new research has uncovered yet another way that this eating plan can help make people’s lives better. A study at the University of Newcastle in Australia has found a link between fiber/fat intake and airway inflammation (which contributes significantly to asthma); the research indicates that the more fat an asthma sufferer consumes, the greater severity in their symptoms – and thus, the more times they need to reach for the inhaler or nebulizer.

The researchers monitored 137 asthmatics, as well as 65 people without the condition. Using a combination of dietary questionnaires and blood tests, they sought to examine the relationship between participants’ diets and the severity of their symptoms. On average, severe asthmatics consumed five grams more of fat daily, and five grams less of fiber daily, than individuals without the condition. Additionally, for every 10-gram increase in daily fat consumption, the odds of having severe asthma jumped up by 48 percent, marking a significant correlation. It’s important to note that these results indicate an association, rather than a cause-effect relationship. In other words, eating a slice of pizza now and again won’t trigger an asthma attack ­– although previous studies have indicated that too much fat in one’s diet can exacerbate symptoms. 

So there’s the science. What’s the solution? The Gastrointestinal Associates and Endoscopy Center recommends that people cut down their fat consumption to no more than 20 to 30% of their daily diet (35 to 50 grams of fat for the average female, 45 to 70 grams for the average male), and that they consume 20 to 30 grams of fiber every day. Here are some low-fat, high-fiber foods that can help you cut down on inflammation, feel better, and stay happy and healthy!

·         Beans – Beans, beans, the glorious fruit…ok, all jokes aside, beans are one of the best high-fiber options out there ­– just 1 cup of boiled black beans has 15 grams! ­­– and they come chock-full of protein and B vitamins. What they don’t have is fat - the United States Department of Agriculture estimates that there’s only 1g per 100g of beans. 

·         Fruits & Vegetables ­­­– The idea that fruits and veggies are good for you isn’t exactly ground-breaking, but the fact remains that they contain tons of water, fiber and vitamins, and virtually no fat. Plus, some fruits, such as apples, have been singled out as asthma-fighting juggernauts. A homemade smoothie is a terrific way to get all the good stuff; throw some raspberries, blueberries, bananas, and apples into a blender with some ice or low-fat yogurt, and you’ve got yourself a delicious inflammation-buster.

·         Whole Grains – Dietary guidelines recommend at least 3 servings of whole grains a day to aid digestion, lower blood cholesterol, and help control hunger. Low-fat and high in fiber, whole grains are especially great because there are so many varieties – if it’s bready, it’s probably available in a whole-grain version. If you find bread boring, you might want to try quinoa, barley, or bulgur.



So there you have it – cut down on the fat, amp up the fiber, and you just might find your asthmatic woes on the decline! Not that being healthy is too shabby, either.



Zoe Camp is an avid blogger for http://justnebulizers.com/ and a student at Columbia University who spends her time researching and writing about health, especially respiratory health.


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