Huff and puff: an asthma story

The prevalence of asthma in children in Australia is approximately 14%, and 6-7% in adults – that’s over two million people.

There is a strong link between asthma and allergy, with more than 80% of asthma sufferers having some allergenic sensitisation.

Diet is also a culprit for the increase in asthma prevalence with the ‘Modern Australian Diet’ of increased sugar, saturated fats, preservatives and processed foods causing inflammation in the body which can worsen asthma.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways. People with asthma have very sensitive airways in their lungs which react to triggers that cause inflammation, mucous production, spasms and narrowing of the airways leading to breathing difficulties and wheezing. In an asthma sufferer, the airways narrow in response to stimuli that do not affect the airways in normal lungs. The narrowing requires the person to exert much more effort to move air in and out.

Three main factors cause the airways to narrow:

  • lining of the airways becomes red and swollen (inflammation)
  • increased mucous may be produced, which can block up airways
  • muscles around the airways tighten or spasm

Common triggers

  • dust/dust mites
  • feathers
  • animal fur
  • pollens
  • smoke
  • cold air
  • exercise
  • sulphites (naturally occurring and used as preservatives in food)

Nutritional medicine

Overall dietary considerations:

  • reduce red meat intake to max of 2x per week
  • reduce intake of sugar, salt, saturated fats, processed foods, additives, preservatives, dairy (especially cow’s milk)
  • go gluten free – a recent study has shown a 6-fold increase in asthma in people also shown to have a gluten intolerance
  • avoid drinking very cold fluids
  • avoid sulphites – dried fruit, pre-prepared salads, alcohol
  • increase fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains
  • ensure adequate fluid intake – fresh juices, broths, herbal teas

In addition to dietary changes and improvements, some nutritional supplements may be worth considering:

– B vitamins: high strength B complex – 1-2 tablets per day ( Thompson’s B Complex)

Zinc: 20-40 mg per day

– Vitamin C: up to 1,000mg twice per day. Increase if exercising heavily (as tolerated) ( Thompson’s chewable Vit C)

– Vitamin E: 400 IU twice per day ( Bioceuticals Vit E)

Magnesium: 400mg per day

– Omega-3/6 fatty acids: 1-2 g per day ( Bioceuticals EPA/DHA, Ethical Nutrients High Strength liquid fish oil)

– Coenzyme Q10: 150mg per day ( Bioceuticals CoQ10 Excel)

Environmental/lifestyle recommendations:

– reduce allergens: regular cleaning to keep levels of animal fur, dust mites, airborne moulds and pollens

– keep bedroom temperature stable and try to balance humidity levels as much as possible

– limit exposure to irritants: smoke, environmental chemicals and fumes

– specific exercise such as yoga with specific breathing techniques and postural exercises

– massage: may help reduce anxiety in asthmatic children and thereby improve respiratory capacity

For support and insights into asthma support and treatment, contact the Natural Chemist and speak to one of our experts on the best course of treatment for you T: 1300 882 303.

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