Curbing asthma attack

Bharat Savur | Updated on January 20, 2011

Oily foods can induce 'gastric asthma'. Photo : M.Vedhan.   -  Business Line

My mom says that I should not eat burgers because I'm asthmatic. Is she being culturally prejudiced or is she correct? Are certain foods to be avoided to prevent an asthma attack?

- Rashmi J.

Mom is right. In that, any high-fat food ? be it a burger or a batata wada ? causes inflammation in the bronchial airways and makes the medication albuterol less effective.

Yes, certain foods trigger asthma attacks. They are seafoods, nuts, eggs, salt, food, additives like msg (in Chinese cuisine and some diet crunchies) and metabisulfite (contained in dried apricots, shrimps, beer, wine).

Sulfites may also be sprinkled on fresh fruit-and-vegetable-salads at buffets to keep their appearance fresh. A wise approach when eating out is to inform the steward about your allergy and request that msg and metabisulfite not be added to the dishes you've ordered.

And if you're passionate about eating burgers, you could stop at one moderate bite and savour it to the max. Alternatively, experiment on making a delicious fat-free, baked burger at home. Who knows, you could come up with a winner. With a bit of help from Mom, of course!

While doing a diagnostic endoscopic procedure, the gynaecologist found a small tear in my hernia and stitched it up immediately. I exercise regularly. Does this mean I should stop exercising?

- Ashwini Row

Please check with your gynaecologist. She/he would be the best judge. Even after you get the medical green signal, avoid any abdominal exercises and heavy weight-training for six months.

Meanwhile, do these exercises gently:

Diaphragmatic breathing. Sit comfortably, eyes closed. As you breathe in, allow your stomach to swell outward. As you breathe out, allow it to relax back. Do this for 2 minutes initially. Build it up to 5.

Healing light visualisation. Continue sitting. Visualise a golden rain of light pouring on you from above and moving into your head and all through your body. See it surrounding the hernia and entering it. Say softly, ?The hernia is completely healed.?

One day, soon, you'll experience an intuitive knowing that you've healed. Believe it. It'll be true.

I just turned 45 in May. I don't know if it's psychological, but my joints feel stiff in the morning, particularly in the cold season. I've stopped my morning walks for that reason. What should I do?

- Binoy

It is psychological. Don't make a big deal of 45, it's only a number. World over temperatures are falling so we must all get fitter, healthier, stronger and, yes, warmer! Take these measures:

Sleep warm. It grows chillier post-midnight and you sleep restlessly though you may not quite feel the cold. Sleep snug. Wear socks and a cap. When your feet and head are warm, you sleep deeper. You'll find your joints aren't stiff in the morning.

Exercise indoors. Get yourself a stationary bicycle and cycle indoors. Do some weight-training too. Wear 2 layers of clothes when you begin exercising. As you start perspiring, you can shed the extra layer.

Use hot water. Bathe in hot water and drink hot/warm water through the day. Carry a thermos to office, more so if you work in an air-conditioned environment.

Above all, don't skip your exercise session. It gives a physiological bounce and a psychological boost to prevent fatigue and depression. It's nice to give (and get) a warm cheerful smile on a cold and frosty morning.

I'm 24. I don't enjoy exercising, I find it boring. But I want to lose 5 kg. Please advise.

- Dheeraj Panjabi

What's there not to like about exercising? It's a beautiful support system that's always there for your use. Think positive about it constantly and you'll grow into it.

For weight loss, don your running shoes and run for a minimum of 20 minutes daily:

Fix a time. Decide to run at dawn (pre-breakfast) or at dusk (pre-dinner). Advantages: the dawn air is crisp and fresh; a dusk-run drains out the day's tensions.

Pick a park. Run in a park where there are other people. Seeing their earnestness will motivate you.

Set the mood. Warm up your muscles by walking for 5 minutes. Then, warm up your mind ? before you start, say to yourself, ?I'm going to have a great run!? At the end of the run, exclaim ?Wow!? and walk to cool down.

Watch your posture. Run with your back straight. Avoid looking down as your body goes out of alignment and puts stress on the lower back.

Never say never. Don't let your mind moan, ?Not today.? If you don't feel up to a run, walk. If you feel like staying indoors, dance. If you feel like watching TV, jog on the spot (for a minimum 20 minutes) and do jumping jacks during commercial breaks.

Tip: Eliminate ?boring' from your vocabulary ? that's the secret of the greats.

The writer is co-author of the book ?Fitness for Life' and teacher of the Fitness for Life programme.

Published on January 20, 2011

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