Indian medicine women have historically treated illness and injury with herbs and roots from the earth. Chinese medicine promotes the use of herbs for imbalances in the body. And who is not familiar with the old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”?

The food you eat has a major impact on the way you feel and on the way your body functions.  Are you feeling energized, strong and optimistic?  Are your body systems regular, your eyes bright, your skin shiny? Or is your energy lagging, your nerves fidgety, your breathing ragged, your digestive processes slow or erratic? 

Rather than reaching for another pill, maybe a closer look at what you are eating might solve some of your concerns.

.  People who have been taking medication for diabetes or high blood pressure for years suddenly find that, once they achieve the right balance of real foods in their diet, they don’t need to take pills any longer. 

Doctors at Kaiser Medical Center hand out recipes to their patients instead of prescriptions.

What do you eat? How much is real food and how much is processed? Processed food contains high amounts of sugar, fat, and salt, high fructose corn syrup, and nitrates. Processed foods have led to problems with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and exacerbate other inflammatory conditions including COPD. The less you have in your diet the better.

If you do purchase some, make it a habit to review the nutrition label. Those hot dogs, deli meats and some of your bacon may contain levels of nitrates which increase the inflammation in your lungs. Check to be sure they are nitrate free.

What could you add to your diet that would help you feel better and be healthier?

Eating salmon twice a week improves your energy level as its high in Vitamin B12.  Salmon boosts your mood, gives you more radiant skin and helps maintain the functioning of your vision. Salmon strengthens your bones and can ease the symptoms of arthritis. It also boosts your mood! The anti-inflammatory properties of salmon help prevent exacerbations and enhance tissue healing in your lungs. So, you can clearly see that simply adding salmon to your diet can have a significant impact on your overall health and well being.  

Walnuts, beets, and blueberries are great anti inflammatory foods that decrease the chronic inflammation in your lungs. Apples, leafy greens and tomatoes have also been shown to decrease airway inflammation. A study in Japan found that regular consumption of kiwi can reduce the incidence of bronchospasm. 

Are you underweight? You may be burning more calories just from the work of breathing than the number of calories you are taking in. 

Try eating small amounts of high calorie foods six to eight times a day. Cashews, avocado, coconut, yams, yogurt, peanut butter, and oatmeal might be good options. Consider eating every two hours. 

If you are overweight, there might be extra pressure on your lungs causing more difficulty breathing and more fatigue.  If you are carrying an extra forty to fifty pounds in body weight, try turning it into muscle, exercising more frequently, so it strengthens you. Add more lentils, beans, and vegetables to your diet. Use a small plate, and make enough food to have leftovers. I enjoy making a big soup with lots of vegetables, beans, and lentils, and maybe some lean meat at the beginning of each week. Soup is a quick, easy, low calorie option and gives me delicious lunches for the entire week.

Do you sometimes feel bloated after eating a large meal or after eating gassy foods? Do you notice that you get more tired and maybe have some tougher breathing? Try cutting down on the foods that cause you gas and eat smaller meals. Smaller meals will put less pressure on your breathing muscles. Chew slowly and consciously and wear your oxygen. 

You might ask your doctor to check your vitamin levels and your thyroid hormones to ensure that you are not deficient. A deficiency might be causing some of your fatigue. 

Tune in to your body. You don’t need to over analyze what you eat but work to be smart, avoiding fried, processed, starchy, and sugary foods and enjoying a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and fish.  

Take the controls and begin your journey towards better health and well being, one small change at a time.