Nutritional support when living with asthma

Asthma

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways – which are the breathing tubes that carry air into our lungs. The bronchial smooth muscle goes into spasm due to a trigger and the cells in the lungs produce an excess amount of mucus, thereby increasing the narrowing of the airways. Symptoms may range from severe shortness of breath to severe respiratory failure. In some cases breathing can become so difficult that an attack can endanger life.

Asthma & Natural Therapies

Embracing natural therapies that have been shown to be effective can almost certainly reduce the frequency of symptoms, minimize severe acute attacks and reduce reliance on drugs.

Common triggers

There is no known cause of but there are certain triggers that can set off an attack. Avoiding these triggers if possible can help control asthma. These triggers can differ between individuals.

  • Allergy related – house dust mites, moulds, pollen and pets
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Colds, flu and other respiratory infections
  • Exercise
  • Other triggers can be:
    • cold air, change in temperature
    • work related eg. wood dust, chemicals, metal salts
    • certain medicines eg. Aspirin, some blood pressure drugs
    • stress and high emotions

Some interesting facts:

  • Over 2.5 million Australians have asthma – about 1 in 10 adults and about 1 in 9 or 10 children.
  • Asthma and allergies are closely linked. Asthma is more common in families with allergies, but not everyone with asthma has allergies.
  • Adults of any age can develop asthma, even if they did not have it as a child.
  • Some people have asthma during childhood, but later have very few or no symptoms as adults.
  • Many preschool children who wheeze do not have asthma by primary school age.
  • Indoor and outdoor pollution (including moulds, gases, chemicals, particles and cigarette smoke) can increase the risk of developing asthma.
  • Athletes can develop asthma after very intensive training over several years, especially while breathing air that is polluted, cold or dry.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms are:

  • wheezing – a continuous, high-pitched sound coming from the chest while breathing
  • shortness of breath – a feeling of not being able to get enough air
  • a feeling of tightness in the chest
  • coughing – alongside other symptoms

Conventional medical treatment of asthma is non-negotiable. While corticosteroids and other conventional drugs are commonly prescribed for asthma patients, they do produce severe side effects and are not recommended for long-term use. Natural supplements, on the other hand, are safe for long-term use and in many cases, they are just as effective.

Nutritional Support

The following vitamins and supplements can help to reduce your dependence on asthma drugs.

  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that increases immunity and decreases inflammation. Some research suggests that consuming more vitamin C reduces wheezing and inflammation.
  • Magnesium – Magnesium helps the relaxation and dilation of bronchial airways thus reducing the severity of attacks and symptoms like muscle-spasming activity.
  • Omega-3 fatty acid – Omega-3 is mostly found in oily fish and nuts and seeds. Omega-3s help lower the incidence significantly because they reduce airway inflammation and immune system reactivity.
  • Vitamin D – Vitamin D is important for the immune system, strong bones and lung health. Vitamin D helps to improve the lungs’ response to steroids — medications used to reduce airway inflammation in asthma. It also reduces the severity of attacks
  • Coenzyme Q10 – CoQ10 has been shown decrease both oxidative stress and asthma symptoms. Also, it may reduce some long-term side-effects of glucocorticoid medications.
  • Flavonoids – The plant flavonoid quercetin—found in apples and onions— lowers inflammation and is a powerful antioxidant. Quercetin has been shown to inhibit histamine release also.
  • B vitamins
    • Folate (vitamin B9) reduces allergic reactions and inflammation. It might be able to lower wheezing.
    • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is involved in healthy adrenal function and stress plays a large role. It’s needed in larger quantities by asthmatics because they seem unable to utilise this vitamin correctly.

Asthma is a serious illness from a holistic point of view. Each patient should be assessed individually depending on their condition and treatment. It goes without saying that the naturopathic/nutritional solution can be tried, but it may not be the same for all patients. Interactions with medications and adverse effects in those with specific illnesses are also possible, so it’s important to inform your health care professional about all supplements. It is important to understand that it is a chronic disease and although there is currently no cure, with the right knowledge and good management, most people with asthma can lead full and active lives.


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Bernadett Healy – Nutritionist

Bernadett is a qualified Nutritionist and Kinesiologist offering scientific, evidenced based nutrition with functional testing, mind set coaching and kinesiology to get to the root cause of your health issues.  Her area of practice is in chronic health conditions caused by mould, sensitivites and in childrens’ health.  With a background in financial services, her interest also extends to stress management and fatigue in high pressure corporate work environment.

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References:

  • National Asthma Council Australia, https://www.nationalasthma.org.au
  • Clinical Naturopathic Medine, L Hechtman, 2012 Elsevier Australia
  • Vitamin D supplements may reduce asthma severity, H. Whiteman 4th October 2017. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319617.php
Bernadett Healy