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Halloween Tips – The Effect of Sugar and Dairy on Asthma

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ Leave a comment   , , , ,

Now that summer has come and gone, the grocery store is filled with Halloween candy displays. Those with asthma know to avoid pollen and pet dander to help prevent asthma attacks. However, do you know that eating excess sugar and dairy can also have an negative effect on asthma?

Here’s how sugar and dairy effect your lungs and some tips for an asthma-friendly Halloween.

Candy Corn

 

How Sugar and Dairy Consumption Effects Asthma

Sugar is often inflammatory, even to those without asthma. Higher consumption of sugar can cause airway inflammation, making asthma worse.

Other common Halloween candy ingredients are dairy products. Eating dairy causes the body to produce excess mucus, which can make breathing more difficult.

Avoiding candy in large quantities is important for everyone, but is particularly crucial for those with asthma. With Halloween around the corner, avoiding candy becomes more difficult, especially for children.

Tips for an Asthma-friendly Halloween

Emphasize candy-free activities: Instead of trick or treating, try a haunted house or movie night.

Limit candy consumption: If you and your child do go trick or treating, stick to snacking on a few pieces of candy that evening and save the rest of the haul for later.

Have a Halloween party: Holding your own Halloween party is a great way to guarantee healthy asthma-friendly snacks like popcorn, fruit, and veggies are available for you or your child. A night of spooky crafts, fun games, and a family friendly movie can make for a Halloween your child will remember for years to come.

Avoid other allergies/triggers: If you or your child will be attending a party at another home, avoid indoor allergies like pets as much as possible. For trick or treating, check the air quality and pollen levels before heading out

With these tips, Halloween can be fun for the whole family

Everyone has their favorite Halloween candy treat. However, for a healthy holiday for all, keep the candy to a minimum. Shifting the focus away from candy to more healthy spooky fun will guarantee a fun holiday for all.

Additional Resources

Asthma and Nutrition: How Food Effects your Lungs – American Lung Association
Sugar Intake Linked to Kids’ Asthma? – WebMD
Six Best and Worst Foods for Asthmatics


Added Sugar Amounts Now on Nutrition Facts Panel

Lisa Feierstein Children's Health, Diabetes Leave a comment   , , , , , , , , , ,

Nutrition News: Added Sugar Now on the Nutrition Facts Panel

FDA_Nutrition_Facts_Label

By U.S. Food and Drug Administration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

You may have already seen an updated Nutrition Facts label on products you’ve recently bought. Effective July 2018 the FDA will require that the Nutrition Facts label include a new category – added sugar. This category will be shown in the Total Carbohydrates section – on a separate line.

The FDA says that added sugars, “include sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such (e.g., a bag of table sugar), and also includes sugars from syrups, honey, and concentrated fruit or vegetable juices.”

This is another step in a series of efforts to help all of us make better food choices and minimize our risk of obesity and chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Many medical studies have shown that those chronic diseases of adulthood often begin in childhood. The American Heart Association (AHA) also believes there is strong evidence that atherosclerosis starts in childhood – and a poor diet, especially one with a high sugar intake may be the culprit.

How Much is Too Much?

American Heart Association Recommendations on Sugar Intake for Children

AHA guidelines suggest a limit of 25 grams or less of added sugars per day for children – only 6 teaspoons. These new recommendations also advise limiting the intake of sugar sweetened beverages to one or fewer 8 oz. servings per week.

Furthermore, for kids under age 2 the recommendations are even more stringent – the AHA recommends avoiding all added sugar. For perspective, one 12 ounce sweetened beverage could contain 40 grams of sugar (9 teaspoons.)

How does that compare with the typical intake of added sugar by children? Studies show that most kids are consuming an average of 80 grams of added sugar per day – more than 3 times the recommended amount.

Focus on Natural Sugars: Reducing Sugar Consumption for Children with Diabetes

fruitChildren with diabetes already need to monitor their food intake to manage their condition. By moving focus away from processed foods with lots of added sugar to whole foods like fruits, vegetables and dairy items, children will get better nutrition. Whole foods with naturally occurring sugars also provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants instead of empty calories.

Remember to read nutrition labels as you shop and try out new fruits and vegetables. Watch portion sizes and limit sugar sweetened beverages. Why not get your entire family on the healthy eating bandwagon for a healthier future?

Additional Resources

The New and Improved Nutrition Facts Label – Key Changes

AHA Statement on Added Sugar Consumption by Children

Diabetes Rates Rise Among Children and Teens


When Valentine’s Day is Bittersweet

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health Leave a comment   , , ,

Valentine's candy heartsMost people are aware of the most common asthma triggers which are referred to as the 3 Ps: pets, pollen, and pollution. Recent studies have brought a new one to light – sugar. The reason? Sugar causes inflammation of the airways. I bet you didn’t know that a little sugar could cause such a reaction.

In 2008, Dr. Sonja Kiersten, a researcher from the Nestle Institute in Lausanne, Switzerland, began to make this discovery. Dr. Kiersten and her colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania used mice to perform their research by feeding them sugar water. This experiment produced the following results.

  • The mice’s airways became inflamed, which made them more prone to developing asthma.
  • The mice fed the sugar water had airways that were twice as reactive as those that drank plain water.
  • The mice became addicted to the sugar water and wanted more.

Limiting your sugar intake is beneficial to everyone, as sugar can affect your body in a variety of ways including:

  • It can lead to an over-active pancreas, which can cause inflammation in various parts of the body. The pancreas is a small organ, so it can only take so much before it starts releasing hormones that affect your sugar levels.  It also produces insulin.  When you feed it with refined sugar like that in a can of soda, for example, your pancreas goes into overdrive and produces too much insulin. This will, in turn, inflame air passages.
  • Excess sugar leads to weight gain. Obesity aggravates asthma, as it does with many other chronic illnesses.

In addition to sugar, dairy can also worsen an asthmatic’s symptoms.  Many doctors tell their asthma patients to try to eliminate dairy from their diets because of the mucus milk and cheese produce, which clogs the airways and constricts air passages.  Even coffee can be harmful.  It is definitely important for asthmatics to stay hydrated and water is the best way for them to do so.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, here are some ideas on how you and your family can celebrate this popular holiday with minimal impact:

  • Have your child take Valentines to school with small toys attached instead (ex: a balloon).
  • Do a Valentine’s Day craft.
  • Make a special, heart-shaped breakfast using cookie cutters.
  • Take him/her out on a “date” not involving food such as a movie, walk, game night, etc.


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