Disease Proof

Clamping Down on Asthma

We live in an age of disease. It seems like everyone is popping a pill nowadays. And kids are taking the brunt of it. From ADHD and to ADD—surely, something is wrong with your child! But all these new-fangled conditions are overshadowing traditional maladies like asthma. Just like a Hollywood agent, “Sorry baby, you ain’t hip anymore.”

Maybe that’s why new federal guidelines are coming out this summer urging doctors to pay closer attention to children with asthma. Lauran Neergaard of the Associated Press has more:
Federal guidelines due this summer are expected to urge doctors to more closely monitor whether treatment is truly controlling everyday symptoms and improving patients' quality of life — and to adjust therapy until it does.


Already, a campaign is under way to teach patients to recognize they need better help, and to tell them how to convey that to a doctor. If the doctor's happy that you've had no flare-ups but doesn't know you had to quit playing soccer to do it, you're not achieving good control.

Too often, physicians don't realize how severe symptoms are, says Dr. Jill Halterman, a pediatric asthma specialist at the University of Rochester. With children, their own parents may underestimate symptoms.

It's more complicated than denial: When wheezing while running or waking up at night coughing has been routine for years, people may not know to complain.

"It may be part of what they view as normal," says Halterman, who is studying the control gap. "We're hoping we can change that so the goal can really be for the child to have no symptoms and no limitations on activities."
Now, I’m sure every kid with chronic asthma wants to live without symptoms and have no limitations, but what if they could go one step further? What if they could knock their asthma out of the box? Impossible? Not so according to Dr. Fuhrman. In Disease-Proof Your Child he explains that nutritional excellence is a sure-fire way to shake asthma at its foundation:
Eating protein-rich and fat-rich foods of animal origin—meat, cheese, fried food, and saturated fat—is associated with a higher prevalence of both allergies and asthma.1 Eating in fast food restaurants and eating a lower intake of vegetables and other fiber-rich foods has been implicated by numerous studies. The same studies also show that the children in the lowest third of vitamin E intake were found to have three times the incidence of asthma compared to those children in the highest third of vitamin E intake.2 Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin found in greens, raw nuts, and seeds; it is not found in animal products. The consumption of white bread, butter, and margarine has also been noted to be strongly associated with asthmatic symptoms.3


The same pattern emerges. What is needed to battle the development of asthma allergies is the same adequate intake of omega-3 fat as well as diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Eating high antioxidant- and phytochemical-containing foods is related to lower occurrence of childhood allergies and asthma.4 Nutritional excellence can normalize an excessive inflammatory response. The inflammatory cascade release chemicals that attract white blood cells and fluid into the area, which results in the tightness and swelling that create the symptoms of asthma. When nutrient intake is low, the lung tissues become overly sensitive to irritating stimuli.
In a previous post Dr. Fuhrman talks about a young asthma sufferer who achieved great results with nutritional excellence. From Asthma Can Often Be Controlled With Proper Nutrition:
Jonathan was an excellent student and was keenly interested in learning how what he ate affected his health and his breathing problem. At the initial visit to my office, Jonathan was instructed on using a spacer with an inhaler and was taken off his three times a day nebulizer treatments. I told him his recovery hinged on the amount of green vegetables he was capable of eating. He was more than cooperative. This eight-year-old said to me, "I will eat dirt if you can fix my breathing." So I said, "How about if I give you great-tasting real food to fix your asthma. You can be a lot better within a year." Jonathan is now in fourth grade. It took about eight months until he no longer required any medication. He is now the picture of health and uses no inhalers or other asthma medications.
Also, according to Dr. Fuhrman breastfeeding is an important part of stopping the development of asthma in children. Here’s a couple of posts talking about that:
1. Huang SL, Lin KC, Pan WH. Dietary factors associated with physician-diagnosed asthma and allergic rhinitis in teenagers: analysis of the first Nutrition and Health Survey in Taiwan. Clin Exp Allergy 2001;31(12)1875-1880.

2. Hijazi N, Abalkham B, Seaton A. Diet and childhood asthma in a society in transition: a study in urban and rural Saudi Arabia. Thorax 2000;55(9):775-779. Denny SI, Thompson RL, Margetts BM. Dietary factors in the pathogenesis of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep 2003;3(2):130-136.

3. Farchi S, Forastiere F, Agabiti N, et al. Dietary factors associated with wheezing and allergic rhinitis in children. Eur Respir J 2003;22(5):772-780.

4. Baker JC, Ayres JG. Diet and asthma. Resp Med 2000;94(10):925-934.
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