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Healthy Lifestyle

Healthy diet

It is recommended that you have a healthy diet as food is the fuel your body needs for everything you do, including breathing. Your body uses food for energy as a part of a process called ‘metabolism’. This is when food and oxygen are changed into energy and carbon dioxide. Eating healthily also helps the body fight infections. Chest infections are illnesses that can be dangerous for people with PCD. You can reduce your risk of infection by eating well.

General exercise has multiple health benefits but can also be used as part of your mucus clearance routine and will help to improve lung function and fitness.


Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Not only does regular exercise help to maintain overall fitness and manage your weight, but it can also lower the risk of many life-threatening conditions. People who exercise regularly are likely to live longer and enjoy a better quality of life. In fact, studies have shown that being physically unfit is just as dangerous as smoking in terms of lowering life expectancy.

Regular exercise also improves mental and emotional health. The chemicals and hormones that are released in the brain through exercise can help deal with stress and promote happiness.

For children it is important that they take regular exercise to develop muscle and bone strength, help posture, fitness, and lung function. All types of exercise should be encouraged. Trampolines are particularly effective in helping to clear mucus. All these health benefits are the reason why many people are encouraged to exercise. However, many people think exercise is too expensive or simply takes up too much time. As little as half an hour of moderate activity every day, such as brisk walking, can be enough to improve health and fitness. There are many ways to exercise, and it is possible to find something to suit any kind of lifestyle.

Any type of aerobic exercise that encourages you to take deep breaths is good, such as football, rugby, swimming and running. It may also be helpful to try other activities that concentrate on breathing techniques and balance such as tai chi and yoga. If you are unable to get out, then get a Nintendo Wii – they are great exercise for all the family.

More information on exercise can be found here.

Five Essential Nutrients

There are five nutrients that are essential for health and life.

  • Found in milk, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, beans and pulses
  • The body uses proteins to repair damaged tissue
  • Remember to trim the fat off meat – too much fat is not good for you
  • Found in bread, cereal, rice, pasta, fruit and potatoes
  • They are the easiest form of energy to digest
  • If they are high in fibre, they help with your bowel function and lower your cholesterol
  • Found in butter, margarine, oils (e.g. olive oil, rapeseed oil etc.) and nuts
  • They are mainly a source of energy and vitamins A D E and K
  • Found in liver, eggs, meat, fish and dried fruits such as raisins
  • Milk, cheese, almonds and tofu are rich in calcium. Dairy products also have vitamin D
  • Calcium and vitamin D help with healthy bones and teeth. Iron is important for your blood
  • Calcium is especially important for people who are on high amounts of steroid treatment
  • A – improves eyesight and helps fight infections – it’s found in butter and many dark green vegetables
  • B – necessary for normal nerve function, good digestion, good appetite and healthy skin – found in wholegrain breads and cereals, meat, fish and dairy products
  • C – good for fighting infection. The best sources are citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit etc.), strawberries and broccoli
  • D – helps with healthy bones and teeth. Found in dairy products and some mushrooms
  • E – found in wholegrain cereals
  • K – regulates blood clotting – found in cauliflower, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, soya beans, meat and green tea

Your ideal weight

If you are overweight, your heart and lungs must work harder to supply oxygen to your body.

Being underweight is not good either. You can feel weak and tired, and you may be more likely to develop a chest infection. It is important for you to eat enough calories to prevent muscle wasting or weakening.

Talk to your respiratory nurse specialist or GP if you are concerned about your weight.

Loss of Appetite

If you feel unwell, if you are producing lots of mucus, or if you are breathless – you may lose your appetite.

  • Take your medicine with food unless advised otherwise. This prevents an upset tummy.
  • Vary the colours and textures of your food.
  • Use colourful garnishes to brighten food and make it more appealing.
  • Take regular exercise.
  • Try high-energy drinks – they take less energy to digest.
  • Having a lung disease can sometimes leave you with a bad taste in your mouth and put you off your food. Try brushing your teeth before meals.

Loss of Muscle Tone

If you are unwell, you may do less exercise. And your muscles may become weaker.

Try to eat a well-balanced diet.

  • Try to eat more high-protein foods – meat, fish, poultry and dairy products
  • Add grated cheese to vegetables, soups and casseroles
  • Use double-strength milk on your cereal, and milk instead of water for porridge (double strength milk is one cup of whole milk with 1/3 cup of non-fat dry milk powder added)
  • Add hard-boiled eggs to tuna and chicken for sandwiches/salads
  • Add non-fat dried milk to casseroles, custards and puddings
  • Keep hydrated
  • Puddings such as rice pudding, angel delight and blacmange made with double-strength milk are a great way to get lots of extra calories in.

Keeping Hydrated

It is important to keep the secretions in your lungs thin and easy to cough up. If you do not drink enough, your secretions will be thick and sticky and will increase your chances of an infection. Drinking enough liquids also helps with digesting food and avoiding constipation.

  • Water is your best option.
  • Drink at least 2.5 litres of liquid a day (juices, milkshakes and water).
  • When you have an infection or fever or during the hot weather, drink more.


Antibiotics may be effective at eliminating bacterial infections in the body, but they also disrupt the balance of desirable and undesirable bacteria in the gut. This can leave the digestive tract available for pathogenic bacteria to take up residence making it harder for the friendly bacteria to re-colonise to beneficial levels.

The symptoms of an imbalance of gut flora are: bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion, IBS and food intolerances. Friendly bacteria are found in cultured foods such as live yoghurt, cottage cheese, miso, sauerkraut, tofu, tamari, and kefir.

However, these may not be enough, and a friendly bacteria supplement known as a probiotic may be beneficial. You can research lots of information on probiotic supplements on the internet or you may choose to discuss with a dietician or nutritionist.

Friendly bacteria are crucial to our health and carry out a range of functions including:

  • manufacture of B vitamins
  • play an important part in our immune system by increasing numbers of immune cells
  • increase the absorption of minerals
  • produce lactase to digest milk
  • enhance bowel function by promoting efficient passage of waste
  • help control cholesterol levels
  • act as anti-carcinogens
  • produce antibiotics to control levels of bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
  • alter the acidity of the gut to make the environment undesirable for pathogens
  • break down hormones and build hormones for re-use
  • contribute to optimal metabolism
  • help remove toxins