Asthma can be a bitch. It can disrupt daily life by affecting work and personal life by limiting your activities.
To control asthma, doctors prescribe quick-relief medicines like Albuterol and long-term control medicines like corticosteroids, depending on the patient’s need. The thing about asthma medicines is they can have side effects including fast and irregular heartbeats, anxiety, headache, tremor, and restlessness.
But a number of researchers studying asthma have found convincing proof that asthma can be managed differently. A number of studies put plants to the test and this is what they found:
Oxidation products decrease after eating more fruits and vegetables. This, combined with fewer intakes of animal foods, resulted in decrease of the metric even more. Oxidation products, which are measured in the exhaled breath, were used in this study to measure oxidative stress, or an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidant defenses.
Antioxidant levels in people with asthma are lower than in those without asthma but why that is so is uncertain. It could be either because of diet, which evidence suggests could change the lung’s response to inhaled allergens and irritants, or because of increased use of antioxidants to fight off free radicals in the body. What’s certain, however, is that this study found those with asthma had lower whole blood levels of total carotenoids (an antioxidant), like lycopene and lutein, compared to healthy controls.
Removing fruits and vegetables from the diet resulted in significant worsening of asthma. One study gave subjects with asthma a low antioxidant diet, i.e. no fruits and vegetables, and saw this result in just a matter of days. But what’s even more interesting is that this kind of diet, which included two to three servings of fruits and vegetables, is typical of Western diets, aka the Standard American Diet.
In contrast, consuming more fruits and vegetables directly led to improved asthma control. The same study, in its second phase, found people with asthma who ate seven servings of fruits and vegetables instead of the usual three servings significantly improved their condition. They decreased their asthma severity by half. Asthma exacerbation rate (worsening of asthma symptoms) for people with asthma on the Standard American Diet is about 40%.
Going vegan for a year could get rid of or treat asthma. A pilot study followed 35 patients who have been suffering from asthma for an average of 12 years and receiving long-term medication but did not get better and, in fact, got even worse. These severe asthma patients were given vegan food for one year, at the end of which they experienced significant decrease in asthma symptoms and in almost all cases, either drastically reduced their medication or stopped taking them altogether. One patient described the change as if “they had a new life”.
Sticking to a Mediterranean diet could also prevent asthma. A study in Crete showed children who ate more fruits, vegetables and nuts, as is common in a traditional Mediterranean diet, were less prone to wheezing, allergic rhinitis and atopy.
It’s true: An apple a day does keep the doctor away. Middle-aged men who ate a lot of apples were found to have superior lung function, according to this study. The same is true for kids. Children who ate fresh fruits everyday were found to have strong lungs in a separate study.
Get lots of Vitamin P. Vitamin P, or polyphenol phytonutrient, can be found in grapes, apple, broccoli, flax seeds, herbs and tea. It helps people with asthma to lower their risk of allergic reactions and inflammation that trigger attacks. In this study, vitamin P acts as a first line of defense for the body by directly binding allergenic proteins and rendering them hypoallergenic. But if this fails, vitamin P also prevents activation of allergic response as well as inflammation.
Supplements don’t work. Eat real foods. Taking supplements is not as effective as eating whole foods. They simply don’t work. This study shows that Vitamin E from whole foods rather than from supplements reduced the risk of asthma.