Asthma, bronchial asthma, inflammation, improve symptoms, limit steroid inhaler use, diet and asthma, adrenals and asthma, essential fatty acids and asthma, omega 3 and asthma, EFA and asthma, vitamin C, Magnesium
Wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, chest tightness are symptoms that asthma sufferers know all too well. Incidence of asthma is on the rise with the increase in chemical pollution in the air, water, and food. The causes include the environmental factors and genetic factors.
Bronchial asthma is a hypersensitivity disorder characterized by airway spasm, mucosal edema, and excess mucus secretion that leads to decreased ventilation(movement of air in and out of the lungs).
Inflamed airways are sensitive to irritation from chemicals, dust and other allergens. In response to these substances the lungs will become inflamed and then airway muscles will tighten and mucus production will increase. This means less airflow to the lungs. At a biochemical level there is an increase in histamine from mast cells and increase in leukotrienes(both have inflammatory effects) which need to be controlled.
What can someone with asthma do to improve their symptoms and even limit the use of steroid inhalers to a minimum?
Let’s start with food. Food allergies or sensitivities are important factors to address for asthmatics. Food reactions whether immediate as is typically the case with peanuts, shellfish or delayed food reaction with foods such as milk and wheat can trigger or sustain symptoms of asthma. Elimination diets have successfully been used to treat asthmatics; basically the removal and later reintroduction of the offending foods do determine which foods are culprits. Food allergies can lead to increased gut permeability that can lead to increased chances of even more food allergies. Food additives should also be avoided as they negatively affect airway inflammation.
What about cortisol? Cortisol is very important hormone responsible for helping your body respond to stress(ie. Flight or fight response). The two glands that sit on top of your kidneys secrete cortisol in response to mental or physical stress. When your cortisol is elevated for a long period of time then its negative effects of cortisol come into play: weaker immune function, increased inflammation in the body, abdominal weight gain and lower thyroid function. Cortisol also plays an important role in immune function since it functions as a natural anti-inflammatory and inhibits the allergic response. These anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties are applicable to asthma as well.
Essential fatty acids, the omega 3 fat and omega 6 fat ratio should optimally be 4: 1 or even 3:1, but we are far off that target as the average American or Canadian consume much more omega 6 fats. The imbalance leads to greater overall inflammation in the body and as a negative effect on asthma as well. Omega 3 fatty acids are effective in improving inflammation in the lungs via balancing of the leukotriene pathway to the less inflammatory version which leads to improvement of symptoms. One of the best ways to improve your essential fatty acid balance is with good quality fish oil in the proper dose.
Vitamin C and bioflavanoids such as those found in grape seed, pine bark and green teas are also important in asthma treatment as they can inhibit mast cell release of histamine, smooth muscle contraction, and other inflammatory mediators. Vitamin C should be taken consistently to inhibit mast cell release of histamine as well.
Magnesium is a mineral that is involved in energy metabolism and hundreds of biochemical reactions. Its use in asthma is mostly for its anti-spasmodic activity on smooth muscle. The intake of oral magnesium can effectively raise magnesium blood levels but takes up to a number of weeks to do so. Intravenous magnesium can be used to raise tissue concentration of magnesium quickly and has been used to halt asthma attacks.