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Relax! You’re not Going to Die!

November 30, 2011

In all honesty, I own a copy of a book called “Asthma: Relax – You’re not going to die”. I make sure I take to bed with me if I’m wheezing on account of it would be too ironic for me to experience any sort of asthma fatality with the book next to me. Recent Zumbic events and a chest infection have made me reconsider my use of this book and like, actually start reading it.

The guy who wrote the book has asthma himself and a lot of his preamble centres on the fact that he wasn’t looking after his health properly when his asthma was at its worst. Turns out his asthma has got a lot easier to control through taking measures such as not owning a rabbit when he’s allergic to them, exercising and eating right. Now he has the evangelistic zeal of ‘this worked for me so it will work for you’ coupled with actually being a doctor. Evangelism and a white coat and higher chair than ours aside, let’s give him a whirl.

Take your peak flow, avoid your triggers (smoke, perfume, cats, cow dairy*), take vitamin supplements, be ten miles away when anyone is hoovering in fact don’t have carpets at all if you can help it, get enough sleep, be a saint, it’s all your fault so change it etc.
*or “cow diary” as this post read before I went back and corrected my typing. Monday – Mooooo, Tuesday – Moooo etc.

What, specifically, does the author have to say about diet and what does he have to say about exercising?
Well, exercise is your friend and he gives tips on how to build it up gradually and do it safely even though you’re asthmatic (David Beckham seems to be doing ok with it).  Regarding diet there are various studies quoted and they all suggest different things:

  • British people eating less antioxidants has been a factor in increased incidence of asthma so one needs a load of fresh fruit and veg.  A breakdown of what antioxidants are in what fruit and veg was useful but I don’t think I needed to be told “whenever you hear the word ‘vegetable’ or ‘fruit’, a smile should come to your face and the word “good” should fall from your lips”.  Nevertheless I am on board – so much fruit and veg bought this evening that the fridge door is convex.
  • Meat or Fish?  The author (did I say his name yet?  He’s called Jonathan) wants us to eat more fish and less meat.  Fish has omega 3, which is good for asthma sufferers (flaxseed oil has it in too – I have been known to drown salad in it).  What’s up with meat?  Saturated fat – bad thing for asthmatic people.  Darn, I bought lamb chops.
  • Supplement with healthy fats – take some vitamin E with your flaxseed oil.  What foods contain vitamin E?  We all know about C and we know carrots have vitamin A and Marmite has vitamin B but we get lost around the other letters.  The first gazillion Google results are for supplements and at a gazillion and one we have a useful list of foods I could never have guessed
  • A load of asthmatic people went on a vegan diet and after a year 92% of them felt better asthma-wise with reduced or no symptoms
  • Caffeine is a bronchodilator but it can exacerbate anxiety and, since I don’t use any stimulants for the very reason that I am anxiety-prone, the jar of instant coffee in the kitchen remains for emergency use only
  • High sodium intake has been associated with asthma so watch the salt or even ditch it.  I may ask for permission to swear here (sorry mum, if you’re reading)… BUGGERATION! I am a salt fiend.  Give me salt over sugar any day.  Mr J says ‘Be smart and cut back on the salt’ so I best put up and shut up
  • Mr J’s final word is go slowly and don’t diet.

My own final word is that, from tomorrow, I’m starting on an eating plan that will span as much of a year as I can be bothered to keep up with it.  It’s very gradual and is outlined here in more detail.  It should give me a head start on having less salt and less saturated fat also more fruit and veg because step 1 is, for the first 3 months, you give up processed and refined food.  I ate quite a lot of processed and refined food this evening as a farewell and I wholly expect to go crazy over the next few weeks but I hope you’ll join me here to see how I get on and watch me do that 😉

Oh, and apologies for not posting for ages x

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