Any condition that affects our respiratory health can be particularly distressing for many reasons. Difficulty breathing can be a scary feeling; it can impact daily living and place restrictions on what types of activities you can do. When it comes to managing asthma, the use of medications to prevent attacks, reducing exposure to potential triggers and certain issues of lifestyle are the key components of your treatment strategy. If these are leaving something to be desired, or you are simply interested in doing as much as you can to manage this condition, there are some natural strategies that may be of benefit to you.
The foods we eat have an impact on our health way beyond the basic act of providing our body with the fuel it needs to survive; the foods we choose to consume, and sometimes more importantly, choose not to consume, appear to play a role in either quelling symptoms of certain conditions or worsening them. When it comes to asthma and your diet, making some changes here may be of significant benefit.
High intake of omega-6 fatty acids has been linked with numerous health problems and it may worsen asthma in particular—these fats actually offer benefits to the body but when eaten in excess—as is the case of the typical Western diet, they cause inflammation and other problems. Cut back on oils such as corn, sunflower, safflower and soy. Low sodium diets have been associated with better lung function—the measures to accomplish this are pretty obvious and do not really need to be named here.
A diet rich in antioxidants is linked with a lower risk of developing asthma and it may also help you if you already have it—healthy lung function is dependent on antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E; they also help fight inflammation, something you want to keep at bay no matter what respiratory issue you have. Make sure you eat lots of fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors. Certain foods have been known to trigger asthma, either because of an allergy or because it releases substances that can trigger an attack. Examples include wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, turkey, tree nuts, legumes, wine and beans. Experimenting with an elimination diet may help.
Meditation has been getting a lot of attention in recent years as research is finding it beneficial for managing a number of conditions, both physical and mental, including asthma. One study, for example, conducted by researchers at the University of Cincinnati found that adolescents suffering from asthma found the practice of meditation useful in managing their symptoms. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, other mind/body techniques that may be effective include yoga, hypnosis and journaling.
Many natural supplements, ranging from minerals to herbal preparations may help keep asthma symptoms at bay. When putting together a regimen, it is best to work with a knowledgeable health care provider who can offer suggestions on the best supplements for you, recommended doses and how to use them properly and safely. Potentially useful supplements include choline, magnesium, fish oil, quercetin, vitamin C, coenzyme Q10, lycopene, vitamin B6, boswellia, coleus forskohlii, typlophora and pycnogenol.
You also want to do what you can to maintain a healthy weight as carrying extra pounds is associated with increased attacks. You also want to address indoor air quality, which is often worse than the outdoors. Consider getting an air purifier; house plants are also great for cleansing the air in your home. Consider using natural cleaning products and air fresheners as their conventional counterparts emit loads of chemicals that are bad for respiratory health.