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Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
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Eating well is key to maintaining strength, energy, a healthy immune system and general lung heath. The key to a healthy balanced diet is not to ban or omit any foods or food groups but to balance what you eat by consuming a variety of foods in the right proportions. At a high level, the basic elements of a healthy diet include the right amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water.

Protein:

Essential to the building, maintenance, and repair of body tissue such as the skin, the internal organs, and muscle, proteins are the major components of our immune system and hormones. When choosing protein-rich foods, pay attention to what else you are getting with that choice (i.e. choices high in saturated fat known to raise blood cholesterol putting us at risk of heart disease and stroke). Vegetable sources of protein, such as beans, nuts, and whole grains are great choices and offer healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals. The best animal protein choices are fish and poultry; however, for those partial to red meat, you should stick with the leanest cuts, choose moderate portion sizes, and make it only an occasional part of your diet.

How much protein should you eat? The amount of protein you need depends on many factors including age, sex, and level of physical activity. The WHO (World Health Organization) set the minimum protein intake at about 1/3 of a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Following is a chart from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) June 2011 recommended daily amounts.

USDA Daily recommendation*

Children 2-3 years old
4-8 years old
2 ounce equivalents
4 ounce equivalents
Girls 9-13 years old
14-18 years old
5 ounce equivalents
5 ounce equivalents
Boys 9-13 years old
14-18 years old
5 ounce equivalents
6.5 ounce equivalents
Women 19-30 years old
31-50 years old
51+ years old
5.5 ounce equivalents
5 ounce equivalents
5 ounce equivalents
Men 19-30 years old
31-50 years old
51+ years old
6.5 ounce equivalents
6 ounce equivalents
5.5 ounce equivalents
*These amounts are appropriate for individuals who get less than 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity, beyond normal daily activities. Those who are more physically active may be able to consume more while staying within calorie needs.

A simple trick for knowing the right portion sizes along the course of the day is to us the size of a deck of cards or the size of your palm (minus the fingers) as a guide.

Fats:

Fat is good and a necessary part of any healthy diet. What is important is the type of fat you eat. Here’s the bottom line when it comes to fats:

  • Choose the ‘good’ fats:
    • Monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but solidify if refrigerated. Generally, these heart-healthy fats are typically a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, a nutrient often lacking in American diets. Look for these foods: olives, avocados, hazelnuts, almonds; cashews, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and olive, canola, and peanut oils
    • Polyunsaturated fats are found mostly in vegetable oils and are known to help lower both blood cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels. Look for these foods: omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish (i.e. salmon, trout, catfish), flaxseed and walnuts.
  • Limit or avoid ‘bad’ fats:
    • Limit saturated and avoid trans fats altogether as they both can raise cholesterol levels, clog arteries, and increase the risk for heart disease.
    • Saturated fats are found in animal products including meat, poultry skin, high-fat dairy, and eggs and in vegetable fats that are liquid at room temperature, such as coconut and palm oils.
    • ‘Artificial’ trans fats are used extensively in frying, baked goods, cookies, icings, crackers, packaged snack foods, microwave popcorn, and some margarines. Look for ‘partially hydrogenated on the label, but bear in mind that the “trans fat free” claim can still mean up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Natural trans fats are not as concerning, especially if you choose low fat dairy products and lean meats.

Nutrition experts agree that most Americans should eat less fat than they currently do. Research shows that excessive intake of fat -- especially trans fat and saturated fat -- and cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease; however, keep in mind the biggest influence on blood cholesterol level is the mix of fats in your diet—not the amount of cholesterol you eat from food. Cholesterol isn’t necessarily the villain it has been portrayed to be.

Carbohydrates:

Probably the most misunderstood of all the calorie-producing foods, ‘carbs’ have been avoided at all costs by dieters of all shapes and sizes. Like good and bad fats, there are good and bad carbohydrates – at least ones that are better or worse for you (i.e. nutrient-rich carbs such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes vs. foods devoid of nutrition such as processed foods, candy, pastries, cookies, and soft drinks and fruit drinks.) So, here are some guidelines on carbs:

  • Skip refined and processed foods altogether: Consider shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store instead of down the aisles where most refined and processed foods lurk.
  • Read the label to see if there is added sugar: The words “syrup”, “sweetener”, and anything ending in “ose” (i.e. high fructose corn syrup) can usually be assumed to be “sugar”. Note that many "sugar free" foods have ingredients called ‘sugar alcohols’ in them such as maltitol that can be as bad or worse than sugar.
  • Choose whole grains (i.e. oats, whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa), beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables
  • Try to have 40% of your total caloric intake come from complex carbohydrates like legumes, vegetables and 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain bread, cereal and pasta.
  • Avoid foods with ‘low-fat’ and ‘low-carb’ promise: These typically contain sizable amounts of calories from either sugar or fat.

Vitamins & Minerals:

Both vitamins (i.e. vitamins A, B, C, D E, and K) and minerals (i.e. calcium, potassium and iron) are vital to the proper function of the body. Vitamins and minerals must come from the diet since the body doesn’t make them.

The 13 essential vitamins are divided into two categories,.

  • Fat-soluble: Fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) are easily stored by the body. Excess amounts of fat-soluble vitamins can be toxic to the body, so be sure to ingest the proper amounts.
  • Water-soluble: Water-soluble vitamins (C and all B vitamins) on the other hand, are not stored for long in the body, so we must consume them daily. When you take more than you need, the body eliminates the excess in the urine.

Many minerals, like water-soluble vitamins, must be taken in relatively large amounts (i.e. calcium, potassium, and iron.) Others, like trace minerals (i.e. zinc, selenium, and copper) require only small amounts for good health.

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) recommends we get the vitamins and minerals our bodies need directly from the source – food, but nutrients from supplements can help some people meet their nutrition needs.

Water:

As the most plentiful substance in the body, accounting for 55 to 65 percent of our body weight, water is critical to our overall health. It is a major component of every body cell, tissue and organ and plays an important role in almost every body function, including:

  • Transportation of oxygen and nutrients through the blood
  • Temperature regulation
  • Acting as a necessary component of chemical reactions
  • Aid in elimination of waste through urine and feces
  • Lubrication of joints
  • Acting as a major component of body fluids such as mucus and tears
  • Giving the cells their shape and stability

Because the body can't store water, we must constantly replenish it. Drink pure water, or drinks that are mostly water (i.e. sparkling water with lemon or diluted fruit juice) throughout the day.

Portion Control:

In recent years, portions have been gradually getting bigger with the introduction of king-size chocolate bars and super-sized fast food meals. Larger portions can encourage us to eat greater quantities of these unhealthy food choices, which is why almost three quarters of Americans are overweight, one in two Americans have one or more chronic diseases – and one in three children born today will have type 2 diabetes. When it comes to how much to eat, think more about 'down-sizing' rather than 'super-sizing' for most foods, except fruit and vegetables.

Limit Sugar Intake:

This is nothing to take lightly for people with PCD. It’s not about weight gain or weight loss. It’s about avoiding a bacteria-loving environment – and bacteria love sugar. Clearly the body needs sugar, but a diet high in foods with little nutritional value that provided excessive ‘empty calories’ in the form of simple carbohydrates and sugars both weakens the immune system and promotes bacteria growth – the perfect storm for infections. The bottom line? Reduce the sugar load on your body, and bacteria will have harder time infecting it.

What can you do? Here are some tips for you to consider:

  • Be your own food detective! Investigate the clues on the labels.
  • Incorporate more vegetables and fruits with natural sugars into your diet on a daily basis.
  • Gradually replace your consumption of soft drinks and fruit juice with water.
  • Eating well is key to maintaining strength, energy, a healthy immune system and general lung heath. For more information on sugar, see:
  • Sugar isn’t so sweet after all: How too much sugar puts your health at risk and ways you can protect yourself.
  • Starve the Infection: 10 Steps for Reducing Sugar Intake

Other Ideas to Consider:

  • Talk to you doctor!
  • Consider an anti-inflammatory diet
  • You may want to avoid antibiotics in meat, poultry and dairy products by buying all natural, free range and organic