Asthma is a chronic disease involving reversible narrowing and inflammation of the airways that is triggered by various irritants. It affects over 8 percent of the population of the United States.
The prevalence rates of asthma have increased a remarkable 18.2% from 2000-2001 to 2008-2009 among adults in the majority of the U.S.1 Asthma is found in all countries but especially in westernized countries, suggesting a link to diet and environment.
Symptoms of asthma include:
Asthma triggers include:
Risk factors for asthma include:
Though it can take one to two years, many who follow the Nutritarian diet have resolved years and years of suffering with asthma through superior nutrition.
The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)
I have been following a 100% Nutritarian diet for three months with great success (35 pounds lost so far!). I no longer have daily headaches, aches and pains or problems with arthritis and am no medications, however, the condition I most hoped to heal, asthma, remains under very poor control. I hesitate to see my doctor and tell him how much I am using my rescue inhaler (Ventolin- up to 10 times/day) as I know he will prescribe steroids, and I really don’t want to go that route. Do you have any suggestions as to how I might tweak my diet to see more improvement?
It is very common for the overuse of a rescue inhaler (beta agonist) to inflame/irritate the lung and prevent the resolution via the nutritional intervention. Using a steroid inhaler and getting off the beta agonist is the first step. Then, once you are well controlled on the steroid alone, it is likely that you can begin to slowly wean down the medication under your doctor’s supervision.
You said that you are 100% Nutritarian, but just to reiterate, make sure that you are eating a high-nutrient diet with no processed foods, dairy, oils or saturated or trans-fats. Eat flaxseeds and other nuts and seeds daily. Avoid your known triggers for your asthma if possible. Remember, it can take up to 2 years of superior nutrition to see the asthma and allergies improve.
My son has been having difficulties with asthma for the past few months. He is allergic to dairy, eggs, and mold. Most of the books say that asthma will improve if dairy is eliminated, but he has never had any. He currently uses albuterol and Pulmicort. The allergist wants him to go on Singulair long-term. Is this a good option? I am concerned about all this medication. I know he needs to increase his fruit and vegetable intake, but this is difficult, as he is a very picky eater. What should we focus on?
The medications are a fairly safe method to make sure that he doesn’t have a dangerous asthma attack, so I certainly would continue the Pulmicort and use the rescue inhaler/nebulizer when needed. The Singulair may be needed temporarily if he isn’t having good control of his asthma symptoms so far, BUT, if you want him to gradually improve as he gets older, then maximizing his nutritional intake is critical before you can safely consider decreasing these medications under the supervision of his doctor. So, the whole family has to get involved with eating high-nutrient foods daily without dairy, processed foods, or too much salt and oil. Even if you make efforts to begin by hiding vegetables in his food, that would be a start. It can take nearly 20 times or more to introduce foods to a child before they get used to them and possibly want to eat them, so don’t give up. Also, offering two healthy choices (such as, "do you want an apple or a peach") will give him the feeling of independence while still eating a healthy food.
Can a Nutritarian diet help improve exercise induced asthma? Are inhalers harmful for this condition, as they make me jittery?
Yes, a Nutritarian diet rich in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, minerals, and vitamins will reduce inflammation, improve immune function, and reduce the hyper-reactivity of your airways. I have observed many people who have made complete recoveries. Also, vitamin D sufficiency is important, so make sure you have your level checked when you can. An optimal level is between 30-45ng/ml. Some inhalers can be harmful. Even though rescue inhalers are important in a breathing emergency, long term use can worsen asthma control. If you eat perfectly and optimize your vitamin D level, over time you should be able to avoid them.