I had hoped to get this out sooner, but had some other health complications that needed my attention.
BUT…… now, without further ado, Sinus Health Post 2-
The big D! Diet:
Changing my diet choices has been one of the most influential and powerful self care tools I have, in a huge way for my sinuses, but also for my whole body. Now, before going any further I need to emphasize that these are diet changes that were helpful for me. These offerings are just possibilities for you to explore and it’s important to understand that although there are certain foods that have tendencies to do certain things in a body, every body is unique. This said, my biggest recommendation is to learn what works best for you and know that sometimes, based on meds or body changes or whatever else you put into it, this can change. It’s worth taking the time to do a food journal periodically to understand how what you put into it affects your own unique body. Self awareness and learning how to listen to how our bodies respond to what we put in them is one of the most important skills we can learn and teach our kids. Especially if we/they are living with a chronic illness.
There are several layers of diet for me. I use aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and the Western approach to an anti-inflammatory diet. I use my food as medicine and change my diet according to the seasons, and what’s going on at any given time in my body. There’s a lot here that I could share, but to try and prevent throwing too much out there at you I will stick to the most helpful diet shifts that I have found.
Again, any time you are considering a shift in diet (eliminating or adding anything) keeping a food journal for at least a few weeks around the change can be extremely helpful. If you are experimenting with eliminating particular foods, only do one at a time so that you have your best shot at understanding the difference made by that one change.
One of the changes to my diet that affected my sinuses the most dramatically was the elimination of dairy. I have found that cold, sweet dairy in particular goes straight to my head and ears. This was a real challenge in the beginning, and believe me, I wouldn’t stick to if so closely if it hadn’t made such a huge difference. Growing up cheese was my FAVORITE food and ice cream before bed was a regular treat. Growing up with CF, and being prescribed the typical “CF diet”, I used dairy A LOT to keep calories on. My mom was concerned when I first began to let go of dairy and change my diet, but after seeing the results, she became a believer ;). There are lots of high calorie alternatives out there. Coconut meat, oil, milk, or ice cream, nuts and nut butters, and avocados are a few of my favorites. I actually even make an awesome carrot cake ice-cream using carrots, almonds, cinnamon (which also has anti inflammatory properties), agave syrup, vanilla, and ice. The almonds make it creamy. Yummy! There are LOADS of anti-inflammatory high calorie options out there. Pinterest is FULL of them, if you need a place to start check out my own ‘Mmmmm” board.
I have also found that I do better when I eliminate gluten, processed foods, and sugars (corn syrup in particular is incredibly inflammatory). According to Traditional Chinese Medicine all of these things can create stagnation in our bodies that can lead to the build up of phlegm.
Eliminating the dairy and processed sugars was the most helpful for my sinuses.
I have also found some helpful additions to the diet for sinus health.
Rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage are a few of the herbs that are helpful for sinus health so I add them into meals abundantly, especially when I feel like I need a little help keeping sinuses clear. Sometimes I will even just chomp on the fresh leaves of these herbs for an extra potent little kick. I grow all of these herbs in my own garden and use the fresh herb as long as I can from there. I really enjoy growing and having these herbs in my garden. (I also say thank you to the plants as I harvest their goodness, which I think is healing in itself, but that’s a subject for a whole separate post.) In the fall, I will dry the extra I’ve grown so that I have them through the winter. Of course if gardening isn’t for you you could just use good quality store bought spices as well.
I also use extra garlic, especially if I feel the beginning of a cold coming on. I’m known to eat a “garlic sandwich” at times. It’s strong, but will get the job done so worth it to me. I just add in a good amount of olive oil and consider it a delicacy ;). ( I have also recently added in GarliActive from Pure encapsulations as a supplement based on studies on its affects on the pseudomonus biofilm.)
In a similar vein I have also found that Oxymel is a helpful addition for overall respiratory health (sinuses of course included in this equation). This is a liquid formula that I make ahead of time and then take 1 Tbsp of daily.
*Oxymel Recipe from Dr. Lesely James: Take 1 ounce elecampane, 1 ounce thyme, 1/2 ounce hyssop, and 8 garlic cloves slice and put in a quart jar. (You can find good quality herbs for this formula at Mountain Rose Herbs.) Then heat 9 ounces of raw apple cider vinegar (not boilded just warmed) and 9 ounces of honey until well mixed. Pour it over the ground herbs (and sliced fresh garlic) and put the lid on. Shake well and let steep for 2 weeks. Strain into new glass jar and keep for daily use. Take 1 Tbsp 1-2 times/day.
Finally, an important part of keeping the sinuses healthy is protecting our bodies from colds, flus, and other viruses and bugs out there. A strong and healthy immune system is your best friend in this arena. Along with getting enough sleep, and being smart about exposure, I have found that the following supplements really help to keep me healthier all year long.
High dose liposomal vit C- I have found this to help immensely in terms of both sinus health and just staying healthy in general. The thing that’s great about liposomal technology is that it is absorbed more easily into our system (again, a whole post could be devoted to liposomal technology, but this is important to note, especially if you have CF and have malabsorption issues.) I actually make my own lipo C at home as it is not hard and more cost effective, but I would recommend trying a reputable brand first for a month or so and see how you respond. Livon Labs is a great brand, although the texture can be a little tough for some. It’s sort of like swallowing a glob or goobers or something (Appealing I know). I recommend just putting it in a little bit of water and slamming it like a shot if you’re trying this one. The benefit of this brand is that it does not have to be refrigerated and can be thrown in a purse or pocket. I use this brand when I’m traveling for instance. This said, because the texture can be challenging for some (I would guess kids might be included in this category) Seeking Health is another good brand that makes more of a true liquid form (but needs to be refrigerated).
There are also other great sources of antioxidants or things that encourage immune and body health. A short list includes green tea, NAC, glutathione, resveratrol, and tumeric (awesome ant-infamatory properties).
Ok, so how’s that for a good chunk of sinus health to chomp on?!
As always, this post is just an offering to compliment your own journey of discovering what works for you or your loved one. Remember, everyone is different and may have different responses to what they ingest. It’s important to work with your health care team and most importantly take the time to get to know your own unique self :).