THE IMMUNE SERIES- Asthma
Asthma is a chronic illness that affects so many children and adults. It is quite a serious and bothersome health problem, where the lungs airways swell up, fill with mucus, and get smaller making it very difficult to breath. This process can then bring on an asthma attack (which is when you may find you need to use your inhaler.) Symptoms of the illness can vary from extreme fatigue, a tight chest, coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing when struggling to take deep breaths. It’s very common but can be very troublesome and interfere with daily life if not properly managed and understood. Flares up causing asthma attacks can happen at any time day or night (coughing is normally more irritating at night) but often you will notice a pattern of triggers over time. Asthma is a disease associated with a chronic underlying airway inflammation and this inflammation is caused by an abnormal immune response like so many other allergies. Flaws in certain genes (asthma genes) sometimes tell cells of the adaptive immune system to recognize harmless substances (like allergens) as harmful and dangerous and this reaction is what causes asthma!
Protocol to manage
There are certain things we can do to help support our bodies if you are suffering from asthma symptoms.
• Diet – Eating a healthy diet that focuses on lots of anti-inflammatory wholefoods supplies asthma sufferers with a huge dose of antioxidants and nutrients to combat environmental toxins, control inflammatory responses and reduce any dietary triggers (like dairy, additives, processed foods) Some foods that would be beneficial to include into your diet are brightly coloured carotenoid foods: Like sweet potatoes, carrots, berries, tomatoes, leafy greens. This compound gives wholefoods their orange or red bright colour and can help reduce asthma attacks. Carotenoids are the basis of vitamin A, which is involved in the maintenance of healthy mucous membranes that line the air passageways (these become blocked if you suffer from asthma) Severity of asthma actually correlates with low vitamin A and in a recent study of 68,000 women it showed that those who ate more tomatoes, sweet pots, carrots and leafy greens had much lower rates of asthma and that people prone to asthma tended to have low levels of circulating carotenoids in their blood. So eat up!!!
• Folate (vit B9) – Folate naturally found in food sources not the synthetic made folic acid reduces allergic reactions and inflammation. If consumedd regularly It may be capable of lowering wheezing by regulating inflammatory processes as well. High-folate foods include asparagus, green leafy veg like spinach and beans, nuts and seeds.
• Garlic, onions and mustard seeds are all ll are considered natural antimicrobials. They can help to fight bacterial infections and improve overall immune health crucial for fighting off allergies! They also contain the antioxidant called quercetin, which I have previously spoken about which inhibits inflammation. Add to your meals to reap the benefits.
• Avoid highly processed foods and additives, MSG, e numbers, sulphites, food colourings etc.
• Avoid inflammatory trans fats like fried foods, deli meats, processed un organic dairy that can be pumped fill of hormones and antibiotics, processed vegetable oils.
• If having asthma is new to you perhaps try an elimination diet to see if there are any common triggers. Food groups to cut out would include dairy, gluten, soy, eggs, corn, peanuts and nightshade veggies. Not consuming too much alcohol may also help.
• Using essential natural oils may also be beneficial for you to help relive any breathing problems. Eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil are great to open up airways. Frankincense oil can be used to lower inflammation and help with swollen lymph nodes, and lavender can be used to help mitigate symptoms, such as anxiety and mood changes. You can make your own blends by mixing these together and inhaling them whenever you need.
• Avoid irritants and toxins where you can. Keep air fresh in your home, with open windows and green house plants. Use a dehumidifier in damp areas, and fix water leaks to reduce mould. Use natural cleaning products, invest in non-allergenic bed linen and wash frequently.
• Supplement vitamin D and C. Vit D is fantastic in supporting the speed in declining lung function and supports overall immune health. It also stops lung “remodeling,” the narrowing of breathing passages over time. Calcitriol, the form of vitamin D we make in the body, is a natural anti-inflammatory, yet many especially this time of year are low in vitamin D due to spending less time outside, the cold weather and eating a poor diet. The daily recommended dose is about 600 international units for adults, which can be obtained through a combination of sun exposure and a healthy diet! Vit C is brilliant for overall immune function and is a great antioxidant for helping the body reduce inflammation.
CREAMY CASHEW & SWEET POTATO DIP
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- 1 cup cashews
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 lemons, juiced
- ¼ cup tahini
- 1-2 tsp chilli flakes, to taste
- ½ cup coriander or parsley leaves
- sea salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 180°C or 350°F. Line a baking tray with baking paper
- Arrange the sweet potato cubes on the prepared baking tray. Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and season generously with sea salt. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and add the cashews to the tray. Return to the oven for 5 minutes, or until the sweet potato is cooked through and the cashews are golden careful not to burn them
- Add the roasted sweet potato and cashews to a food processor with the garlic cloves, lemon juice, tahini, chilli flakes and remaining olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper. Blend to combine. Add in the parsley or coriander and pulse again.
- Enjoy with crudités or your fave crackers, I love brown rice cakes or GF oatcakes!