If you have ever tried googling ‘Diet for asthma” like many other people before you you’ll find that even the wide web turns up nothing specific, go ahead and try it right now, I’ll wait. In the 20th century where knowledge is just a click away why is it that we can’t find something for a chronic disease that affects 100- 150 million people across the globe with 10 to 20% of the sufferer’s right here in humara Bharat. Part of the problem lies in the asking the wrong questions, instead of asking what diet cures asthma (a question that as of now has no answers as the exact cause of asthma remains unknown) we can instead try asking what diet can reduce inflammation?
But wait a minute, weren’t we talking about asthma? What does asthma have to do with inflammation?
Well I’m glad you asked, although the exact causes of asthma have yet to be teased out of the problem- what we do know is that asthma is that it seems to be an inflammatory response of the airways to most often environment triggers. This tendency seems to have a tie in to genetics with children of people with asthma more likely to develop it during the course of their lifetime especially if they have been exposed to “asthma triggers” in infancy. Now while we can’t help genetics- we can help the way our genes develop and also put them in less “triggering” environments there is a whole field of nutrition developing as we speak on how genes can be turned on or rather ‘ triggered” by dietary factors (epigenetics- which we won’t go into detail here).
Now if we can we say that asthma seems to be an inflammatory response –how can the kind of diet I eat play any factor to my asthma anyway?
The answer is logical when you think of the basic definition of an asthma attack. Asthma is traditionally characterised by a strong reaction of the body’s immune system to an allergen in the environment.
If you look at the components of the problem what do you see?
1. A strong reaction of the body’s immune system: The immune system that is in place to protect us from the big bad world over reacts to an environmental trigger- this is asthma in a nutshell.
What does that tell us?
There by if we can down regulate the inflammatory response of the body we can greatly reduce the severity and discomfort of the typical asthmatic attack. We’ll talk more about foods that do that later.
2. It’s usually a response to an allergen in your environment: Often time’s asthma triggers are really normal everyday substances that shouldn’t set of your body’s alarm systems – but do! A few examples are: dust, smoke, synthetic fragrances etc.
And what’s the significance of that?
If you’ve been following our content for a while now you know that there is strong co-relation immunity and your gut health, with majority of your immunity being built there from the time you were born.
Now how does this all tie into your diet?
Well if you’ve been following the breadcrumb trail of clues: you’ll have realised the role of diet in any asthma sufferers life is the same as that of most people with a chronic disease- it’s there to calm the inflammatory fire. There are foods that can aggravate existing inflammation and there are foods to help ease the flame.
So what exactly should and shouldn’t we be putting on our plates?
1.) Yes to Greens: It should come as no surprise that they are on this list with memories of most of our mothers forcing us to eat our greens for a good health. However green vegetables play a 2 part role in solving the problem they provide us with useful antioxidants, flavonoids and carotenoids helps effectively combat infections (Reducing overall inflammation) As well as providing us with pre-biotic fibre to help build up our healthy host of bacteria in our guts (building immunity via gut health).
2.) Yes To Pre+ Probiotics: including pre and probiotics serves one simple purpose to strengthen and retrain your body’s defence system by providing them with a host of good guys (friendly bacteria courtesy of pro-biotics) and food for those good guys (courtesy of pre-biotic’ s)
Prebiotics: Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains.
Probiotics: homemade dahi, water-based pickles, Kombucha, buttermilk etc.
3.) Yes to special spices: certain spices have the ability to down regulate inflammation on the whole (turmeric and tulsi). While some even have a specific effect on bronchial inflammation making the especially good at helping someone with asthma. (Nutmeg, ginger)
Say no to foods such as:
1.) Alcohol– alcohol is not only an inflammatory agent but also requires a lot of water to be safely exited from the body thus dehydrating us in the process- this combo can be crippling to someone with a high level of inflammation as the very nature of inflammation requires water to fuel the process. While also slowing down reflexes such as coughing and sneezing- which are important to clear the airways.
2.) Caffeinated beverages: Same as alcohol increase risk dehydration and slows down important airway reflexes.
3.) Packaged or processed foods – these foods not only can throw your gut health for a toss but also often contain a long list of chemical additives and synthetics fragrances via essences that can further stress an already inflamed system.
4.) Commercial dairy products: Most dairy products commercially farmed are not only subjected to a host of antibiotic and steroidal factors but also raised on diets fed with genetically modified foods so that they can produce more milk. Dairy products on the whole have been found to increase the amount of phlegm produced by the body.
If you must go for dairy make sure it’s coming from locally sourced desi cows (these produce A2 variety of milk that is far less inflammatory)
All in all, we hope this helps you breathe a little easier.