The Proper Diet and Exercise for Asthma

It is important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet when you suffer from asthma. Although there is no certain diet that you should follow, it is important to stay healthy because those who suffer from obesity tend to have more severe cases of asthma. By exercising regularly and following a proper diet, you can boost your chances of feeling healthy, energetic, and full of easy breaths. This chapter will explain what kinds of foods are best to include your diet for treating asthma symptoms and it will also cover some great exercises that you can perform if you have asthma.

Coffee
People have used coffee as a natural way to treat asthma since the nineteenth century. You've probably heard how much coffee is bad for you in all other areas of health, but in this instance, coffee is on your side. Coffee is effective in treating asthma because the caffeine in it helps your airways stay open and can keep you from wheezing. Studies have shown that those who drink coffee have a third less chance of developing asthma symptoms. Many doctors recommend only drinking three cups to get the maximum benefits and you should never give coffee to children with asthma.

Onions
Onions are an excellent food to include in your diet because of their great anti-inflammatory properties. There are even studies that have shown that onions can help open up your airways during an asthma attack. To help reduce your chances of having an asthma attack, it is better to eat cooked onions instead of raw. Onions are easy to include in your diet and they're a healthy vegetable. You can add onions to salads, sandwiches, and soups.

Hot/Spicy Foods
Hot or spicy foods can be excellent for opening your airways. In particular, peppers stimulate special fluids to form in our mouths, lungs, and throats, which in turn loosens mucus and eases your breathing. Great examples of hot foods to eat for asthma are chili peppers or anything with the spice Capsaicin. You can add peppers to your sandwiches and salads, or if you're feeling really brave, you can snack on them by themselves.

Foods with Vitamin C
People who suffer from asthma have low levels of vitamin C in their lungs. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that lives in your bronchi and it can help reduce wheezing. To help control your asthma, you can incorporate plenty of Vitamin C into your diet. You can give your body the right amount by drinking three glasses of orange juice per day or otherwise take 300mg of it in the form of a supplement. Some great examples of foods with Vitamin C are oranges, cantaloupe, red bell peppers, blueberries, broccoli, papaya, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, and strawberries. Vitamin C is one of the easiest vitamins to add to your daily diet because it is abundant in many great foods and drinks.

Seafood/Fish
Fish are a great food to eat to help control your asthma because they contain omega-3 fatty acids. As you may recall from Chapter 3, omega-3 fatty acids help reduce reactions to asthma triggers. If you are able to eat seafood, try to eat plenty of salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel, all of which contain omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that both kids and adults can cut their risk of having a severe asthma attack by eating these types of fish. Fish is great by itself with a healthy vegetable or on a sandwich.

Apples
By eating at least two to five apples per week, you can significantly reduce your chances of having an asthma attack. Researchers believe that flavonoids, which are compounds found in apples, can help keep your airways open. Apples make a great healthy snack and they're perfect if you're regularly on the move. You can cut them into slices or eat a whole one.

Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Green Peppers
These vegetables can be helpful in reducing the occurrence of exercise-induced asthma. They contain an antioxidant that your body can convert into Vitamin A, which can help keep your airways open. These vegetables can serve as a great side dish, especially when paired with another asthma-healthy food such as fish. You can also add them to soups, salads, and sandwiches if you desire.

Garlic
Garlic is another food that contains an antioxidant called allicin, which works like a vitamin to decrease any free radicals in your body. Garlic is an anti-inflammatory food, too. Many people have regarded garlic as a top remedy for many ailments and illnesses for centuries. Garlic is a good spice to add to most of your food.

Milk
Since milk contains plenty of Vitamin D, which reduces free radicals in your body, it can be helpful in relieving asthma symptoms. Milk is a great breakfast drink and you can also add it to your coffee, cereal, or oatmeal. However, it is important to find out if you have a milk allergy before drinking it to ensure that you don't worsen your asthma symptoms with an allergic reaction. Milk allergies are one of the most common food allergies, as I will discuss in a few paragraphs.

Avocados
Avocados can be helpful in relieving asthma symptoms because they contain an antioxidant called glutathione, which also protects your body against free radicals. Avocados are easy to include in your diet because you can add them to salads, tacos, crackers, guacamole, and other delicious dishes. You can even cut one open and eat it right from around the core with a spoon.

Allergy Reminder
If you know that you are allergic to a certain food, take extra caution to avoid eating it directly or eating foods that contain it. If you have an allergic reaction from eating something, you could trigger an asthma attack on top of it. The most common types of food allergies that affect adults are milk, peanuts, shellfish, and eggs. If you are allergic to any of these food products, you should avoid foods that contain them at all costs. If you suffer from asthma but you are unaware of having any food allergies, it can be a good idea to see an allergy specialist to make sure that you don't have any. If you do have a food allergy, always make special requests when dining out and always read the labels on food products before buying them.

Exercising With Asthma
Exercise is important to your health and body because it helps you stay strong, fit, and active. Almost every part of your body is positively affected when you exercise—not only do your muscles, joints, and bones grow stronger, but your lungs grow stronger, too. If you suffer from asthma, one of your treatment goals should be to learn how to maintain a normal and healthy exercise regime. Often times, people with asthma won't exercise enough, out of fear that they will induce an asthma attack. However, exercising can actually help your asthma—as long as you know how to do it.

Low Exertion Activities
Sports and activities that do not require long periods of physical exertion, such as volleyball, softball, or baseball, are a good choice for those who have asthma, since they do not consistently put a demand on your lungs and body. With these sports, you're only moving for a short period of time before you can stop and catch your breath. High exertion activities, such as running, basketball, or field hockey are not good options because you are constantly working your heart and lungs. Cold weather sports such as hockey, skiing, or ice-skating should also be avoided because your airways can be sensitive to cold air.

Swimming
Swimming is a great way to exercise because indoor pools provide a warm, wet environment and warm air usually doesn't bother your airways as much as cold air. Swimming is a great endurance sport that is great for your cardiovascular health and can help make your lungs healthy and strong. It is also a fun sport and you can bring your friends along with you. There are many kinds of ways you can swim for exercise. If you're just looking to swim for fun while exercising at the same time, you can do the freestyle stroke, which is when you swim however you want. You can also practice the backstroke, the breaststroke, or the butterfly stroke.

Yoga
Yoga is a great and popular method of exercise among asthmatics. Practicing regular yoga can help ease your asthma symptoms and need for medication by 43%. Since yoga is a relaxation technique, it can help you learn how to control your breathing as well. There are many kinds of yoga poses but some are better than others when it comes to asthma. Savasana pose: lay down and keep your arms to your sides. Make sure your palms are facing up and are open. Shut your eyes, relax your jaw, and begin focusing on your breaths. Take slow, deep, breaths as you try to relax the rest of your body. Remain in this pose for five to ten minutes while breathing slowly and evenly. Check out this YouTube video by Yoga Journal, Corpse Pose – Yoga Journal Poses, to see how to do this pose. Sukasana pose: sit Indian-style, using a towel for support if you need it. Place your right hand on your heart and your left hand on your stomach. Close your eyes and lift up your chest. Breathe slowly and evenly for five minutes. Check out this YouTube video by Yoga With Adriene to see how to do this pose, Sukhasana (The Easy Pose) – Yoga With Adriene.
Forward Bend pose: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and fold your body like a jack-knife, slightly bending your knees if needed. Close your eyes, let your body hang forward, and take slow, deep breaths. This pose is good for opening your lungs and airways. Check out this YouTube video by Yoga with Adriene to see how to do this pose, Forward Fold Yoga Pose – Yoga With Adriene.
Butterfly Pose: Sit down, press the soles of your feet against each other, and let your knees extend to the sides like the wings of a butterfly. Pull your feet in toward your body and hold your ankles together. Take a deep inhale and then exhale while bringing your body forward. Take five deep breaths while you are in this pose. Check out this YouTube video, Butterfly pose, Yoga, by Ekhart Yoga to see how to do this pose.
Straddled Splits pose: Flex your heels and sit with your legs straddled apart. Tighten your thighs and inhale while stretching your arms toward the ceiling. Breath out and stretch your hands away from your body. Take five deep breaths while in this pose. Check out this YouTube video by Zao Yoga to see how to do this pose, Deep Hip Opening for Straddle Splits and Legs’ Flexibility in Frog Pose.
Bridge pose: Lay on your back with your arms at the side of your body. Bring your feet back and lift your knees until your feet are below your knees. Lift your butt off the floor while pressing your back into the floor, expanding your chest in the process. Stay like this for 30 seconds to a minute and then breathe out, bringing your body back to the floor. Check out this YouTube video, Bridge Pose Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, Yoga, by Ekhart Yoga to see how to do this pose.

Breathing Exercises
By learning how to practice special breathing exercises, you can help yourself control your asthma better. Many doctors believe that those who suffer from asthma tend to breathe quicker than normal and through their mouths, causing cool, dry air to reach your lungs. This type of air is more likely to trigger an asthma attack. Breathing exercises can help you regulate the way you breathe and can help reduce your chances of having an asthma attack.
The first type of breathing exercise that you can learn is called Diaphragmatic breathing. To do this, you can either sit or lie down. Focus on your breaths as you slowly inhale. Make sure that your abdomen extends out as your inhale, not your chest. As you exhale, your abdomen should go back in. When you exhale, it should take twice as long as it did to inhale. For a visual aid on how to breathe this way, check out this YouTube video by CioffrediPT, Learn the Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique.
The second breathing exercise you can learn is called Buteyko breathing. This type of breathing helps those with asthma lower the rate and volume of their breaths. To practice this breathing exercise, sit up in a chair and relax yourself. Look up to the ceiling or sky and close your eyes. With your mouth closed, slowly and shallowly breathe through your nose. Slowly exhale until there is no more breath to exhale. Hold your breath for three to five seconds and then breathe normally. This YouTube video by Christine Byrne, Buteyko Breathing Method, can help you understand this breathing method.
The third breathing exercise you can learn is called Pursed Lip breathing. This method of breathing is useful when you are experiencing an asthma attack because it helps you push more air out of your lungs. To do this, slowly inhale through your nose. Then, through pursed lips (as if you were going to whistle), exhale twice as slow as you inhaled. For the best results, combine Diaphragmatic breathing with Pursed Lip breathing.

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