This Month's Health Matter
What is it?
Asthma is the most chronic (i.e. persisting, long-term) disease of the airways and lungs.
The number of people in the UK with asthma has doubled over the last 20 years. 80% of sufferers have on-going symptoms and need daily medication, often in the form of inhalers.
Asthma is characterised by inflammation of the airways, which restricts airflow to the lungs. Coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, can all be accompanying symptoms.
Why does it happen?
There are several known potential triggers, which include:
Genetic factors - it can run in families
Environmental factors - such as pollution and climate change
Airborne allergies - pollens, viruses, moulds, dust mites, animal hair, chemicals in cleaning agents
Certain drugs - ibuprofen, aspirin, diclofenac, beta blockers
Stress and anxiety
Sulphites - preservatives used in food and drinks
How can Nutrition help?
Probiotics - enhance immune system and tolerance (found in yoghurt, certain drinks, supplements)
Vitamin C - at 1000mg daily bronchial spasms can be reduced, at 500mg daily exercise-induced asthma can be prevented (found in kiwis, berries, oranges, strawberries)
Vitamin D - helps to stabilise allergy-induced asthma (found in oily fish, walnuts, avocados, sunshine)
Fish Oils - help to reduce inflammation and have been proven to improve respiratory health (found in salmon, mackerel, sardines)
Lycopene - reduces exercise-induced asthma and inhibits lung inflammation. (It is found in tomatoes, red fruits, sweet red peppers)
Quercetin - inhibits inflammation. It is a plant flavonoid and can't be made by the body (found in red onions, kale, berries, black beans, green tea, red wine, spinach, quinoa)
Magnesium - promotes better lung function and less bronchial reactivity, whilst helping to relax and dilate the airways (found in nuts - almonds, cashews, peanuts, tofu, avocado)
Vitamin B12 - this cannot be made in the body, so needs to come from food or supplements; useful if sulphites are playing a part in triggering asthma (found in fortified foods - such as cereals and animal products - such as eggs, fish, meat, poultry and milk)
Other areas of consideration when managing asthma -
Regular breathing exercises
Drink at least 1.5 litres of water daily