Do You Have Asthma?
“Too many people have asthma,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), noting that statistics increase every year.
This chronic inflammatory disease occurs when your lungs have trouble moving air in and out. The airways become swollen or inflamed, making them more sensitive to triggers including dust, chemicals, cigarette smoke, and pet dander.
While symptoms of asthma can vary, they typically include:
- A tight feeling in the chest
- Shortness of breath
These particularly occur early morning or at night. Left unchecked, they can trigger an asthma flare-up or attack, where symptoms become worse. About half of people with asthma have asthma attacks, most of which could be prevented.
About 25.7 million Americans have this disease, including seven million children. (Asthma is the most common childhood illness.) About 1.8 million people have an asthma-related emergency department visit every year, and 439,000 people require hospitalization.
Medical expenses related to asthma cost Americans more than $50 billion every year. Almost one in two children miss at least one day of school each year due to asthma, and adults with asthma miss 14.2 million days of work yearly.
Asthma and Age
Asthma can strike at any age. As their lungs develop, it can occur in young people, disappear, and recur as they get older. Until 15, boys are more likely than girls to have asthma. However, asthma is more common in women than men among older teens and adults.
Researchers aren’t entirely certain about what causes asthma or why the numbers continue to increase. Environmental factors including pollution or indoor allergens can contribute to asthma. So can obesity, which is also on the rise. If a family member has it, your odds increase too (suggesting a genetic factor).
More children than adults have asthma, but it can also impact you for the first time when you get older. For older people, determining asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be complicated because some symptoms overlap.
Asthma and Triggers
Others aren’t. Strong odors, certain foods, some medications, emotions, and even laughter can all become asthma triggers.
These triggers make the insides of your airways swell more, narrowing the ability for air to move in and out of your lungs. Muscles that wrap around your airways can also tighten, making breathing even more difficult.
Everyone’s different, and no two people suffer the same triggers. You can’t always eliminate these triggers, but you can minimize their impact.
If you have asthma, you have it. There’s no cure. (Although asthma attacks only occur when something irritates your lungs).
Asthma and Inflammation
Underlying these symptoms is immune system out of control and inflammation.
Your immune system normally protects you against foreign bacteria and viruses. With asthma, however, your immune system could create many of the miserable symptoms.
Many people with asthma more frequently develop allergies, which occur when your immune system becomes hypersensitive to certain substances or allergens.
People with asthma also often suffer more infections elsewhere in the body. That’s because compromised immune systems make them more susceptible to infections.
Managing asthma becomes crucial to avoid airway remodeling. This condition can occur where your lungs become scarred, asthma medicines don’t work optimally, and less air can move through your airways.
While your healthcare practitioner can help you manage asthma, many people require additional care, and your healthcare practitioner might refer you to an asthma specialist for further management.
If you are experiencing symptoms of asthma or have asthma, please consult with your healthcare practitioner and obtain professional help. Your healthcare practitioner can best address your unique health concerns and direct you to an asthma specialist. Never modify or discontinue any medications or other medical advice without your healthcare practitioner’s consent.
Asthma and Food
The foundation to manage asthma: Maintain a healthy weight, avoid Inflammatory foods, and choose immune-support foods.
A typical Westernized diet – low in fiber and high in processed, sugary foods – adversely impacts gut flora, increasing inflammation and contributing to conditions including asthma. These include refined grains, processed meat, and sugary foods, which can potentially trigger or exacerbate asthmatic symptoms.
A high intake of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, can help lower the chronic airway inflammation that contributes to asthma and reduce those symptoms.
So can anti-inflammatory foods including wild-caught seafood, rich in the omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
Our Advanced Plan becomes an excellent foundation to manage asthma and its symptoms. It includes plenty of antioxidant-rich plant foods, anti-inflammatory fats, and healthy proteins. This plan also eliminates many food sensitivities and allergies that can trigger or exacerbate asthma symptoms.
Please consult with your healthcare practitioner about specific dietary strategies to address your asthma symptoms as well as specific foods to include or avoid for your condition.
Natural Solutions for Asthma
Beyond food, specific lifestyle factors can also impact asthma. The number one thing you can do to minimize those symptoms? Don’t smoke, and avoid situations where others smoke (such as smoky bars).
Beyond that, these seven strategies can help if you have asthma. Discuss these and additional lifestyle strategies to manage asthma with your healthcare practitioner.
- Focus on your gut. Gut health plays a significant role in asthma. Leaky gut — a condition where food particles not intended to slip through the gut wall do, creating an immune reaction and inflammation — sometimes occurs with moderate-severe asthma. That’s because your gut bacteria ferment dietary fiber, producing short-chain fatty acids that have immune-supporting benefits to reduce airway inflammation. A high-fiber diet can also support healthy gut flora balance and support a healthy immune response and normalize inflammation levels.
- Minimize environmental toxins. Environmental chemicals (including pesticides, solvents, and air pollutants) contribute to increasing rates of asthma. Among their damage, these toxins create immune imbalances and deplete your master antioxidant glutathione, which plays important roles in detoxification, immune support, and so much more. You can’t eliminate these toxins, but you can minimize their impact by becoming more aware where they lurk (such as household cleaners and beauty products). Discuss a detoxification program with your healthcare practitioner.
- Take the right nutrients. Several supplements can potentially benefit people with asthma. Discuss including these and/or any other additional supplements with your healthcare practitioner. Never modify any medications or other medical advice without your healthcare practitioner’s consent.
- Fish oil: The anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA can benefit a variety of chronic inflammatory conditions including asthma.
- Vitamin C: For some people with asthma, low levels of vitamin C could increase symptoms. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits could be among those reasons.
- N-acetyl cysteine: The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support this form of the amino acid L-cysteine provides can support people with asthma.
- Vitamin D: Its immune and inflammatory management are among the reasons why this vitamin — actually a hormone — could benefit people with asthma. “Vitamin D can be effective as an adjunct therapy in the management of asthma,” say Niloufer S. Ali and Kashmira Nanji in one review.
- Curcumin: This powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant compound — the active ingredient in the spice turmeric — can potentially benefit asthma. In one study, researchers found that “curcumin capsules help in improving the airway obstruction… Therefore, it is concluded that curcumin is effective and safe as an add-on therapy for the treatment of bronchial asthma.”
- Magnesium: This mineral — which over half of us are deficient in — can be ideal for people with asthma because it lowers inflammation and helps you breathe easier.
- Get good sleep. For people with asthma, nighttime coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness can impair sleep. Not everyone suffers from nocturnal asthma, but for those who do, getting optimal amounts of sleep can be challenging. Try to pinpoint specific triggers. If pet dander triggers asthma symptoms, for instance, keep your dog or cat out of the bedroom. Talk with your healthcare practitioner about solutions to get deep, uninterrupted sleep every night. A sleep formula can help you safely fall and stay asleep.
- Exercise intelligently. While asthma might be a barrier, it shouldn’t stop you from exercising. Work with your healthcare practitioner about an exercise plan that works with your condition and stay mindful about potential triggers including air quality when you workout. Long-duration workouts aren’t always good for asthma. Find something that does work for you that you also enjoy, such as swimming. Always discuss this or any other exercise plan with your healthcare practitioner.
- Incorporate stress management. Near-constant stress can worsen asthma symptoms like wheezing and coughing. A vicious circle results where chronic stress can bring on these symptoms, which only stresses you out more. Stress management isn’t a luxury for anyone, and if you have asthma it becomes absolutely crucial. Find something that works for you — meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or another form of active relaxation — and do it regularly.
- Visit your chiropractor. Your brain tells the lungs how to work, how to take in air, how much to take in, and when to take it in. This communication occurs with your spinal cord and out through the nerves into the airway tissues. Stress to these nerves can impact the function of your lungs. A chiropractic adjustment can support the nervous system as it controls the respiratory tract. Chiropractic care can also help support the immune system to relieve asthma symptoms.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory disease with specific symptoms. At the same time, we’re still learning about this condition, and we don’t have any “gold standard” test to diagnose it. But there are natural strategies to help manage asthma. The right diet and lifestyle factors can dramatically improve asthma symptoms.
Talk with your healthcare practitioner about these and other strategies to manage asthma. Never discontinue or modify any medications or other medical advice without your healthcare practitioner’s consent.