Asthma is a condition which is affecting more and more people each year.
It basically is chronic inflammation of the lungs which makes them sensitive to certain inhaled substances.
Obviously, the obvious cause has to be the rising levels of air pollution.
Can it also be, though, that the food we eat could have a direct connection with how severe the asthma attacks are or if we develop asthma at all?!
Personally, we have seen first hand how after going plant-based, Andy is now off his allergy medication.
So we decided to explore and once again discovered how centering your diet on whole plant food is the path towards great health.
First, what exactly is Asthma?
Asthma is characterized by inflammation of the airways – those tiny tubes inside your lungs through which you absorb oxygen and release waste into the air as you breathe.
They become more sensitive to certain inhaled substances.
Due to the inflammation, the airways swell, become narrower and clogged, as they produce more mucus than usual.
As a result, when oxygen flows into the lungs, it causes shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing and wheezing.
What causes Asthma, though?
It is still unclear what causes asthma. But there are some genetic and environmental factors that play a role in the development of the disease:
- Genetic such as people with allergies in your family;
- Infections of the upper respiratory airways in childhood;
- Some allergens in the air such as pollens, dust, animal fur, mold spores;
- Irritants such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, cosmetic ingredients, additives in foods and drinks;
- Medicines such as aspirin or NSAID can trigger asthma;
- Sometimes even increased physical activity can provoke asthmatic symptoms.
Can you reduce asthma symptoms through diet?
Yes. Through following a plant-based, whole foods diet.
Evidence suggests that people who eat more animal-based foods tend to suffer from asthma more.
Trials have shown in a number of ways that by putting people on a diet, free of all animal foods significantly improves their asthma symptoms.
And that is because we need antioxidants to keep our lungs (and bodies) healthy and animal foods simply don’t have them.
Even more, meat is a prooxidant!
How antioxidants keep asthma away?
Your lungs have to functions: to supply the body with oxygen and to clean your blood.
As blood passes through the lungs, harmful substances are released into the air you are about the exhale before oxygen can enter and invigorate your blood once more.
Your lungs are the place where the used, oxygen-depleted, bluish blood becomes oxygenated, vivid and red once more.
As you can imagine, it is not a simple process and nor is it perfect.
The blood itself needs to be cleaned which saturates the lungs which the waste materials from your metabolism the blood is carrying.
Simultaneously, the air that you breathe in has a lot of harmful substances itself and these toxins has to pass through the lungs before it is exhaled.
All these waste products and toxins are bound to be or create free radicals that damage the lining of your lungs.
That is why the airways become narrow as they get inflamed by said free radicals.
It is also the reason why mucus (liquid) is produced by the body in an attempt to catch and neutralize the harmful substances.
That is what happens when you do not have enough antioxidants to battle oxidative stress and the free radicals it produces.
Can I simply buy an antioxidant pill then?
Well, realistically, no.
Technically, you can buy antioxidants in a pill, Vitamin C being the most famous of all.
But evidence suggests you should not do so.
Vitamins are very complex and still not very well understood by science.
It is known, however, that synthetic vitamins are, at best, a lot less effective than eating the naturally occurring vitamins/antioxidants found in whole plant foods.
In many cases though, the synthetic vitamins you take are just another foreign substance for the body that it must get rid of.
In the case of Asthma, in his great book “How Not to Die”, Dr Michael Greger explicitly names studies about how ineffective synthetic vitamins are.
If you are interested, we suggest that you read the great book by Dr. Brian Clement “Supplements Exposed”, where he goes into detail about which supplements are actually beneficial to you.
What to do exactly to alleviate asthma symptoms, then?
First and most important you have to reduce your consumption of milk and other dairy products. Remember they boost mucus production and nourish inflammation.
The same is true about meat and meat products. They are pro-oxidants and pro-inflammatory. Avoid them.
You want to make sure you have clean airways and calm, healthy mucus membrane.
Focus your diet on whole, natural plant foods. Always go for the unrefined ones such as whole wheat flour, brown rice, whole grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, millet, legumes such as all kinds of beans, lentils, peas.
Eliminate all unnatural processed foods.
Drink plenty of water. Good hydration is the foundation of excellent and vibrant health.
It helps to clean your wastes and get rid of toxic substances.
Choose plenty of fruits and vegetables and eat the rainbow. Green, yellow, red, purple, orange, blue – the more colorful the food, the more asthma-fighting phytonutrients it has.
They are rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, minerals, polyphenols and a variety of different substances that are helpful for your body and regenerate your cells.
You can also sprinkle with spices such as cardamon, cinnamon, garlic, black pepper, celery, thyme, coriander, basil, parsley to give your dishes even greater antioxidant punch!
Eat as many as you can raw and uncooked but make sure that you include enough calories in your diet through whole grains and legumes.
How often do you eat beans, for instance? And we know of nobody who does not like beans.
The more you discover plant foods, the more you eat them, the healthier you will be.
And, always, seek health consciously.