We’re heading into cold and flu season. This coupled with the fact that people with high thoracic and cervical injuries are at increased risk of pneumonia and respiratory infections means that we really need to support our immune system by eating foods rich in vitamins A, C and the mineral zinc. But what do you do if you get sick? People with quadriplegia for example experience varying degrees of paralysis of the respiratory muscles and this dysfunction can lead to difficulty coughing up phlegm. The natural approach to addressing respiratory infections includes stimulating the normal process that promotes expectorant (removal of mucus) and nutrition help.
1. Eat vegetables and herbs that act as expectorants
Expectorants are foods and herbs that promote drainage of mucus from the lungs. They signal the body to increase the amount or hydration of secretions, resulting in more yet clearer secretions, and as a by-product lubricate the irritated respiratory tract. Many of these expectorants also have antiviral and antibacterial activity, as well as promote the coughing reflex.
Expectorant vegetables and herbs include carrots, leeks, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, natural licorice, marshmallow root and thyme.
2. Drink 8 cups of water/herbal teas/soup/diluted vegetable juices a day
The neurotransmitter histamine regulates water in the body and assists with bronchial muscle contraction.
Histamine also plays a role in antibacterial, antiviral activity. When the body is dehydrated, histamine activity increases and actually constricts the lungs. Therefore keeping well hydrated in extremely important in managing respiratory infections. Water also helps to dilute the thick mucus lining the respiratory tract which helps secretions to be released and expelled from the body. Chicken soup is very good for thinning the mucus and contains protein needed to help produce antibodies.
3. Avoid mucous forming foods such as dairy, red meats and gluten foods
Milk, cheese and other dairy products are the highest mucus producing foods and should be limited or avoided.
Gluten is a "glue-like" substance that holds molecules together, it requires the production of extra stomach acid for digestion and this can also lead to increase mucus production. Foods containing glutens are breads, pasta, baked goods.