Nutritional Support for Asthma

Asthma is a common, chronic condition characterized by wheezing coughing and inflammation of the airways. This is caused by spasms and the inflammation of the air ways which makes it difficult to breathe in and obtain oxygen. – The airways are often sensitive and in turn there is a spasmatic reaction – a cough. This coughing can be brought on by irritants; cold weather, fumes and many household products.

Eosinophilic infiltration (airways inflammation) plays an important role in asthma. The current thinking is that “undertreatment of airway inflammation may lead to long-term structural changes such as airways remodeling and irreversible airflow obstruction”. This adds to the severity of this condition.

A clinical nutritional approach is to:

1) Reduce the irritants and allergic exposure by
2) reducing the inflammation by
3) providing targeted, nutritional balance.

In any holistic approach’s “removal” (of the offending substance) is always an initial step for most all chronic conditions.

The two basic tests are:

1) skin allergy testing done by an allergist.
2) Blood work with specific tests for allergy and sensitivities for various foods. This can be done by physicians/clinical nutritionist.

Once the allergic triggers have been identified, a plan should be developed to reduce exposure to those allergens. Dust mites, a common allergen, for example, can be found in especially high numbers in carpets and bedding. These items can be removed, treated, or covered to reduce their presence. Air filters can be an effective way to remove household allergens Both HEPA and ionizing air purifiers work well, but ionization units should be chosen carefully. The ozone output of these units can be irritants themselves. I like the combo air purifier – humidifier, water based, machines. For management of indoor environments and ones respiratory health.

Food allergies are very common in people with asthma, especially when the asthma starts early in life. And the connection is becoming even more prevalent.

A 1981 study of 284 asthmatic children found food sensitivities in 75% of them. And other studies have identified food allergy as the sole cause of asthma in up to 40% of adults.

Dairy, eggs, gluten, citrus, peanuts, and shell fish are some of the most common offenders, although any food can be a potential allergen.

Most people think of a food allergy response is when someone eats a food containing for instance, peanuts and has an immediate and very severe, anaphylactic reaction. These can be fatal when not treated on the spot.

A more common and widespread type of condition is a sensitivity reaction. It is delayed and more insidious in nature. Most people with this latter type of condition are sometimes even unaware. They may have a host of many other types of reactions like; reflux, indigestion, fatigue, diarrhea, fogginess and even, an asthmatic response.

And unfortunately, food sensitivity-oriented asthma is almost completely ignored by conventional medicine and therefore is extremely under reported.

Food sensitivity can be effectively diagnosed with a blood test.

Skin allergy testing is useful only for foods that one has an allergy to and creates anaphylaxis. – Of course, once the allergic foods are determined, they must be completely eliminated from the diet.
But it is this sensitivity that often occurs on a daily basis that is the root for a good percentage of the sufferers out there. We see this by the amount and methods of relief described more below.

Balancing the inflamed airways in the body is key:

There was a direct association of intake of fruits and vegetable and a decrease IL-8 protein (inflammation) in asthmatic children.

In asthmatic adults, intake of tomato juice, which is abundant in the antioxidant lycopene, reduced airway neutrophil influx (inflammatory cells) after just seven days of supplementation/use.

One study found that children who eat fish more than once per week have cut their risk of developing asthma as those who don’t eat fish regularly. Avoiding toxic dyes, (found in many artificial colorings) preservatives, aspirin, ibuprofen, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is also important as these substances promote the production of leukotrienes, potent inflammatory substances that promote asthmatic reactions.

Vitamins are also important in the treatment of asthma. Most importantly; vitamins C, B6, and B12, and the minerals selenium and molybdenum. There have been 11 clinical studies since 1973 that have studied the use of vitamin C as a treatment and showed significant improvement. Vitamin B12 and molybdenum both act to reduce sensitivity to sulfites – a common ingredient of restaurant foods that aggravates asthma in an estimated 5-10% of sufferers.

As well, it was noted, “many people with asthma don’t produce enough stomach acid, a condition which can lead to food allergies and decreased nutrient absorption. A 1931 study found that 80% of asthmatic children produce insufficient amounts of stomach acid. This problem can be corrected with hydrochloric acid supplements”.

Asthma is a chronic condition that is greatly impacted by nutritional and lifestyle changes.
The greatest benefit comes from a comprehensive treatment program that includes the use of nutrients, dietary modifications, and allergen elimination. Many patients with mild to even moderate asthma are able to reduce or eliminate their need for prescription medications by following this approach. Asthma medications should not, however, be discontinued without first consulting a physician, as this can lead to a life-threatening emergency.

– Fabbri LM, Caramori G, Beghe B, Papi A, Ciaccia A. Physiologic consequences of long-term inflammation.Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1998;157:S195–S198.

– J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Dec; 126(6 0): S1–58.doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.10.007