ASTHAMA – YOU TAKE MY BREATH AWAY
Usually, we don’t even notice that we are breathing. Air that passes through your nose gets cleansed by the tiny hair, moves into your windpipe and then branches into your bronchial tubes and gets distributed into your lungs. During an asthama attack, the muscles surrounding the bronchial tubes tighten up and make you gasp for air. This muscle constriction (tightening) usually begins with an irritant such as a virus, fungus or bacteria which can come from dust, environmental pollutants, feathers, pets, food additives, tobacco smoke, chemicals etc. These irritants stimulate inflammatory responses in the body, which are responsible /for the asthama attacks.
During an attack the tissues surrounding the bronchioles (respiratory passages) becomes swollen and air does not move in. Furthermore, mucus is formed around the inflamed tissues which in turn blocks airways and impairs the ability of the lungs to absorb oxygen. To further add to this confusion, the muscles surrounding the bronchioles tighten, making it harder for the person to breathe resulting in wheezing, shortness of breathe and a tightness in the chest.
Although a few people may be hereditarily prone to asthama, experts feel that environmental pollution is the main cause. The incidence of asthama is on the rise. It was relatively unknown a century ago. As the world grows more synthetic, our lungs cannot support normal breathing functions.
Nutrition to the rescue: Eating correctly can help reduce the frequency of attacks. No amount of medications can banish asthama completely without nutrition support. Although nutrition is not the answer to asthama but is forms the cornerstone for its treatment.
Diet : A diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, pulses and brown rice proves to be helpful. Garlic and onion contain quercetin which help reduce the inflammation and mucus. Ginger juice taken with honey in hot water also helps to reduce mucus formation and reduces frequency of attacks. Wheat grass juice helps the body to get rid of toxins and mucus. Avoid cold stuff like icecreams, soft drinks and cold sherbets. The bronchial tubes may go into spasm. Milk has mucus forming properties and should be avoided by asthamatics. Fasting for one day in a week on raw fruits and vegetables will also help the body to get rid of toxins and reduce mucus. Besides raw fruits and vegetables are loaded with phytochemicals (Plant chemicals) that work in mysterious ways to keep us healthy.
Specific Nutrients that help:
Omega-3 fats: These fatty acids are found in sea-food and flaxseeds. They work by reducing inflammatory responses, thereby preventing the blockages in the air passages. You can get Omega-3 fats by consuming flaxseeds (alsi) about 2 powdered tablespoons daily. Taking fish oil capsules also helps but if you are sensitive to asprin, check with your doctor before taking any fish oil capsules.
Magnesium: This mineral works as a bronchodialator and helps relax muscles. It opens up the air passages. Asthamatics can consume about 400 mg of magnesium aspartate daily.
Licorice: This herb helps to reduce inflammation and thus prevents frequent attacks.
Vitamin C : helps to cut the risk of wheezing by reducing inflammation of the tissues surrounding the bronchial tubes. It also helps to reduce allergic reactions to dust, pollutants, pets, fumes etc. It helps boost immunity and prepares the body to fight the allergens better thus reducing the frequency of asthama attacks.
Personally, I think, Asthama is a strong warning given by your lungs, to tell you that the world you are living in, is getting increasingly polluted, WAKE UP !.
ANJALI MUKERJEE, Nutritionist, Founder Director-Health Total, having health centers
in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune -manages obesity & other health related disorders.
Contact numbers: 1800 8918131/+91 86575 61727
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