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15 Things To Remember If You Love A Person With Asthma

15 Things To Remember If You Love A Person With Asthma

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways, commonly associated with recurrent episodes of wheezing, chest tightness, breathlessness and coughing. Symptoms of asthma can be triggered by a number of different environmental, dietary and psychological factors, and can often leave asthmatic’s feeling inadequate, unfit or sickly. Because asthma can vary in severity from person to person, and can change seasonally, it is often difficult to know how to help an asthmatic to feel comfortable in their own home.

Here are a number of things to consider when living or spending time with somebody with asthma, which will help them to feel comfortable, respected and happy.

1. They are endangered by smoking

If you’re a smoker, make sure you ask before lighting up a cigarette in the vicinity of an asthma sufferer. They may not complain, but the fact of the matter is that you are not only damaging their health with second hand smoke, but you may be making it very difficult for them to breathe, or even trigger the onset of an asthma attack. So before lighting up, ask them if they’d prefer that you smoke elsewhere. Even if they only suffer mildly from asthma, ensure you are not blowing smoke directly at them, and that the area is well ventilated, this will help to minimize any health risks.

2. They can get worse because of dust

If you live with somebody who suffers from asthma, dust can be a major risk factor and can impact their breathing significantly. Luckily, it is relatively easy to keep dust from accumulating. Ensure that the house is kept well ventilated; opening a few windows for a while each day will help fresh air to circulate. Vacuuming, sweeping, dusting and mopping regularly is essential to prevent the buildup of dust on floors and surfaces.

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3. They can react badly to pets

Often the fur from pets can exacerbate the symptoms of asthma. This is something to keep in mind before buying a pet when you live with an asthma sufferer. If you already have a pet, try to keep your pet well-groomed, and try to keep their fur off beds, sofas and any other furniture that may be used by the asthmatic.

4. They are sensitive to mold

Mold spores can irritate and inflame the airways of anybody, but mold can present enormous difficulties for an asthma sufferer. Keeping mold in check is essential to ensure the health and comfort of an asthma sufferer, so ensure your house is well ventilated and dry. Using anti-mold and mildew sprays can help to tackle mold, but ensure they are not likely to affect asthmatics, or use them only when they are not within the vicinity of the spray.

5. They may have to stay away from pollen from plants

Around 80% of asthmatics also suffer from a pollen allergy. This is something to bear in mind if you are a fan of keeping plants and flowers in your house and garden. Summer can often be a difficult time for asthma sufferers, as the pollen count tends to be higher, and this can exacerbate their symptoms. If you are living with an asthmatic, it is worth visiting your GP for a skin prick test or a blood test, to find out if they also have a pollen allergy. If they do, it’s a good idea to keep a supply of nasal sprays, antihistamines and eye drops on hand, especially in the summer.

6. They may react badly to perfumes

Some perfumes, deodorants and household sprays can irritate the airways of an asthmatic, making it difficult to breath. This can be particularly problematic when an asthmatic is in the same room as somebody spraying perfume. To ease their problems, it is a good idea to make sure you are not in their vicinity when spraying toiletries or switch to subtle fragrances as opposed to strong ones.

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7. They should stay stress-free

Stress has a physiological effect on the immune system. During times of high stress, our immune systems are weakened, as our brains divert more of our internal resources into immediate survival, as opposed to long term wellbeing. During times of high stress, asthmatics can begin to suffer more acutely from shortness of breath, which inevitably increases their general stress level. Often stressful situations are exacerbated by feelings of isolation, leaving the sufferer feeling overwhelmed, lonely, and unable to cope. If you notice severe or acute symptoms that have come on suddenly, this could be due to stress. Offering to help manage their workload, or simply talking to them, can often provide a tremendous relief and help to abate their symptoms.

8. They can be sensitive to certain medications

It is estimated that between 10-20% of adult asthmatics have an increased sensitivity to Aspirin and other painkillers. This can make treating a cough, cold or headache particularly difficult. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (commonly known as NSAIDS) commonly used to treat pain and fever, such as ibuprofen and naproxen are frequently associated with problems for asthma sufferers.  It is important to always check the label before buying over-the-counter medications. Doctors should be aware of an asthmatic’s condition based on their medical records, and so will take necessary precautions when writing up a prescription, but if any medication appears to be making asthma symptoms worse, immediately consult your doctor.

9. They have a harder time with coughs and colds

Asthmatics frequently suffer from inflamed airways, this means that coughs and colds can be particularly distressing for asthma sufferers. If you live with somebody with asthma, it can be helpful to gently encourage them to adopt a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, this will help to bolster the immune system against coughs and colds, and provide them with the vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy lifestyle. It’s also important to keep a good stock of cough and cold medicines to ease them through any illness, although be cautious of medicines which can have a negative impact on asthma sufferers.

10. They may have to stay away from foods rich in Sulfites

Around 5-10% of Asthma suffers also suffer from an allergy to Sulfites. Sulfites are a common additive in many different foods and drugs, and can occur naturally in a number of vegetables and some fish. The combination of asthma and sulfites can be life-threatening because it can lead to anaphylactic shock, this is when the entire body reacts severely to the allergen, which can cause airways to swell shut, making it difficult to breathe.

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Luckily, there is a test available called a controlled sulfite challenge, which can detect a sulfite allergy. This involves exposing the asthmatic to a small amount of sulfites under close supervision to see if they have a reaction. If you live with an asthmatic who does suffer from a sulfite allergy, always check the labels on foods to ensure that they do not contain sulfites, and always ensure they have an emergency inhaler with them just in case.

11. Their asthma varies in severity from person to person

Always remember that asthma is not a condition which affects everybody in the same way. Some mild asthma sufferers may live active lifestyles, and seem to suffer very little. For others, asthma can severely impact their lives. Do not assume that one person’s needs will be the same as another’s. Respect the limitations and requirements an asthmatic may have, and do not belittle them for this.

12. Their symptoms can change over time

Asthma symptoms do not remain static throughout life. Sometimes symptoms of asthma are barely noticeable, and at other times they can be very debilitating, and very occasionally fatal. The good news however is that symptoms do tend to become less severe with age. It’s also important to remember that although most asthmatics develop asthma before the age of 5, it can also develop in later life. The important thing to remember is that even though symptoms may appear to fade over time, symptoms can return, so it is important to be rather over prepared than under.

13. They often struggle to sleep properly

Asthmatics can often cough, wheeze or feel short of breath when trying to sleep. This can not only make it very hard to sleep, but also mean that sleep is less rejuvenating due to the lower oxygen intake. Not all asthmatics suffer from this, but if they do, it is important for them to speak to a doctor about this so that they can get on a treatment plan. This will not only help them to sleep, but will also help you to sleep without being disturbed by coughing. It is very important that sleeping problems are addressed with asthmatics, as this has been associated with more severe diseases and increased mortality rates.

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14. They need to take regular breaks during exercise

This may seem obvious, but it is all too easy to expect an asthmatic to be able to keep up with others during any kind of strenuous activity. Asthmatics can lead active lifestyles, but it is always important to remember that it will most likely take them longer to recover from exercise or labor, and they may need to take frequent breaks in order to recuperate. This may make an asthmatic feel inadequate, so it is important not to make an issue of this, and to let them proceed at their own pace in any physical activity.

15. Their inhalers are not all the same

There are many different types of inhalers available to treat a number of different types of asthma. It is important to remember that not all inhalers are the same, and they do not all perform the same function. Offering the wrong type of inhaler to an asthmatic can be dangerous and may even exacerbate their symptoms.

Altogether, living and spending time with somebody with asthma is not a burdensome task. With a few small changes and some consideration, you can help to keep them happy and healthy. Often asthmatics can feel ashamed of their condition, so it’s important not to draw too much attention to the provisions in place for them, whilst at the same time cultivating an environment of openness, so that if they do seem to be suffering, they know that they can talk to you about it.

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JC Axe

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

Shocked? Well, I was too.

The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

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Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

Your metabolism is like your bank account.

To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

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What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

That’s exactly how your body reasons:

More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

Foods That Increase Metabolism

Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

  • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
    When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
  • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
  • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
  • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

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  1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
  2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
  3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

Sugars and Carbs

Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Dried fruit
  • Commercial and packaged corn
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • All sorts of candies and lookalike
  • Packaged fruit juices and purees
  • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
  • Bread and flour-based products
  • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
  • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
  • Potatoes and potato starch products
  • Oatmeals and other grains
Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
  • All berries except strawberries
  • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White rice
  • All green vegetables

Fats

Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
  • Lard
  • Gmo oils
  • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
  • Nuts
  • Meat fat
  • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
  • Seeds
Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
  • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter (organic)
  • Egg yolks (free-range)
  • Bone marrow

The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

Proteins

Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

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Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
  • Cheap whey proteins
  • Soy proteins
  • GMO meat
  • GMO eggs
  • Packaged meat
Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned fish
  • Canned meat
  • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
  • Farmed fish
Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
  • Free-range meat
  • Free-range eggs
  • Wild meat and fish
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

Other Foods and Supplements

Cold water

Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

MCT Oils or Powders

Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

Caffeine

Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

Green Tea

Green tea

is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

Bottom Line

In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

Reference

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