Any condition that affects your ability to breathe normally can be distressing; it can also impact overall quality of life and place limitations on activities. When it comes to natural therapies and asthma, the focus lies in finding ways to prevent attacks, not treat an active episode. Certain natural strategies may be effective in helping you reach this goal and one of the most potentially powerful is making changes to your diet; but, one thing to keep in mind with this type of strategy is the need for patience and diligence. You must commit to the changes as best you can for the long-term; it may take at least a couple of months to determine if a particular strategy is beneficial for you or not.
Considerations for Food Allergies/Sensitivities
When you think of food allergies, you may think of your face blowing up like a balloon after eating the offending item but symptoms of food allergies or sensitivities can affect you in numerous other ways that may not be as obvious. If you suffer from asthma, eliminating offending foods may help reduce the incidences of attacks. This will take some trial and error and diligent tracking of symptoms. Natural health expert and physician Andrew Weil recommends cutting out wheat, corn, soy, and sugar (one at a time) for a period of 6 to 8 weeks to see if you notice a difference in symptoms. You might consider consulting with a health care provider knowledgeable about the role of nutrition in health for guidance on these types of elimination diets.
Inflammation can serve good purposes in the body—it alerts the immune system that something is wrong and it gets on the job to fix it; but, when it is excessive and prolonged, it can cause a number of problems in the body and it lies at the root of a variety of conditions, including asthma. While you cannot completely eliminate unnecessary inflammation, you can significantly reduce it through diet since different foods contain substances that either promote or quell it.
Foods that trigger inflammation include refined carbohydrates, sugary foods and drinks, and saturated animal fats. You also want to watch your intake of foods high in omega-6 fatty acids—they serve good purposes in the body, but when eaten in excess, as in the case of a diet rich in processed foods, junk foods, and the like, these fats lead to inflammation. Limit consumption of safflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, mixed vegetable oil, sunflower oil, and foods made with them.
Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables—they are loaded with inflammation-fighting antioxidants. Omega-3 fatty acids are king when it comes to easing inflammation. Good sources include flax seed, hemp seed, walnuts, and fatty fish like salmon.
Another dietary change that may help ease asthma symptoms is experimenting with a low-histamine diet. This substance is naturally occurring in a range of foods and normally, our body can easily break it down without incident, but some people, however, lack sufficient production of the enzyme required to process it. Sensitivity to this substance has been implicated as a potential trigger for a number of conditions, including asthma. It is not possible to completely eliminate histamine due to its presence in a large number of foods, so the goal becomes cutting out the foods with the highest amounts to see if you notice any changes; you want to follow a low-histamine diet for at least two to four weeks.
I cannot include an exhaustive list of offending foods here but this is enough to get you started. One of the richest sources of histamine is fermented foods and beverages such as pickles, a certain type of cheeses, soy sauce, sauerkraut, yogurt the soy products tempeh, and natto, alcohol and vinegar. Fruits and vegetables high in histamine include apricots, cherries, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pineapples, raisins, strawberries, raspberries, plums, pineapple, eggplant, pumpkin, sauerkraut, spinach, and tomatoes. You also want to stay away from all types of fish and shellfish as well as prepared processed or leftover meats. Foods made with artificial colorings, preservatives and the like are also on the ‘’no’’ list.