How do I… try a new diet?
There is a lot of discussion among aspergillosis patients about the best diet and eating practices to follow in order to stay as healthy as possible. Here are our tips and advice:
Eating healthily: When aspergillosis is front of mind, it’s easy to forget about other aspects of our health. A healthy diet is particularly important for people with aspergillosis – it helps your body to deal with the stress of aspergillus infection, keeps your immune system in tip-top shape and contributes to an overall feeling of wellness.
If you are planning on changing your eating habits, the most important thing to remember is to make sure you have a healthy, well-balanced diet:
- Base meals on starchy and wholegrain carbohydrates (e.g. potatoes, brown rice, wholegrain bread, brown pasta, rolled oats or wholegrain cereal)
- Eat lean proteins, like chicken, pulses, nuts, seeds, eggs and fish (oily fish like salmon, mackerel or fresh tuna is best)
- Eat at least five portions of fruit and veg a day
- Have some dairy or dairy alternatives, like cheese, milk, natural yoghurt and soy milk
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads (e.g. vegetable oil and margarine)
Avoiding certain foods: There is a lot of information on the internet about foods to avoid in order to ‘starve’ the fungus. We also regularly get people telling us about improvements made to their quality of life after avoiding certain foods – often those containing fungi (e.g. mushrooms, cheese, brewed drinks, bread, soy sauce, miso and many more). Some people are sure that dairy makes their lungs feel worse. However, others do not notice any effects from these foods, and there is no known benefit to minimising your diet with respect to limiting a mould infection. Most of this information is confused with attempting to limit the growth of yeast fungi in our gut and not aspergillosis in our lungs.
Any food allergy can cause wheeziness, either immediately or up to 48 hours after eating. This is NOT a sign that you are ‘feeding the fungus’ – it’s a common allergic reaction mediated by histamine. Common culprits include dairy, nuts/seeds, wheat, food additives (sulphites/tartrazine), alcohol and sugar. It is extremely important that you avoid trigger foods and keep your asthma well managed, to avoid serious asthma attacks. More information at asthma.org.uk.
If you find that certain foods seem to make you feel wheezy, it might be an idea to start a ‘trigger food diary’ to keep track of these foods so you can avoid them in the future.
Superfoods: In recent years there has been a lot of talk about superfoods; foods that are supposedly nutritionally dense and provide health benefits. There is no official definition of a “superfood” and the EU has banned health claims on packaging unless supported by scientific evidence. No ‘superfood’ can compensate for general unhealthy eating habits; it is important to eat a well-balanced diet, as described above. However, there is scientific evidence for some foods having particular health benefits. This graphic provides useful information on the evidence for the health benefits of many superfoods. (This information is provided to us by the group who run the website at informationisbeautiful.net and we believe it is a fair representation of the literature available on May 2019. The Aspergillosis Website is not responsible for the information provided by this company).