Let Us Elaborate On Asthma…
Asthma is a long-term condition affecting the airways with symptoms including difficulty breathing, chest tightness, wheezing and coughing.
In the UK, around 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma. That’s the equivalent of 1 in every 12 adults and 1 in every 11 children. Asthma affects more boys than girls but in adults is more common in women than men. This is thought to be due to female hormone levels, so it may help to ensure your hormones are well-balanced to minimise onset at puberty or in adult life. www.nhs.uk
You could say that someone with asthma has ‘sensitive’ airways that are ready to react when they encounter something they don’t like (an asthma trigger), which can vary depending on the clinical category they fall into. Atopic (childhood onset, extrinsic) asthma affects children and young adults through hypersensitivity to foreign protein such as dust, pollen, animal dander and fungi. When the allergen is encountered the antigen or antibody reaction results in the release of histamine and other related substances that stimulate mucus secretion and muscle contraction that narrows the airways. A history of infantile eczema or food allergies is common and there are often close family members with a history of allergy/asthma. Attacks tend to become less frequent and less severe with age.
What To Avoid
- Dairy – Research has suggested milk can worsen asthma (especially in children) whether from excess mucus production, undiagnosed allergy or a combination of both. Accordingly, some doctors recommend cutting products of this nature from our diet to reduce asthma symptoms.
- Processed foods – Some food additives and preservatives have been shown to be strong asthma triggers in certain cases. These include benzoates (antimicrobial preservatives often found in soft drinks), tartrazine (an artificial colouring commonly used in processed foods), monosodium glutamate (a flavour enhancer known as MSG) and sulfites (preservatives often found in alcoholic beverages). The best way to avoid artificial substances in food is to eat unprocessed, organic foods.
- Salt – Studies suggest that high intakes of salt (sodium) can make asthma symptoms worse by making airways more reactive to allergens. Regions where salt consumption is high also tend to have higher rates of asthma. Moreover, excessive intake of salt can strip the body of potassium, a mineral that has been associated with improved lung function and reduced incidence of asthma in children.
What To Include
- Apples – The National Heart and Lung Institute conducted research, (published in the European Respiratory Journal 2007), which found children who drank apple juice at least once a day were half as likely to suffer from wheezing as those drinking it less than once a month. The study concluded that: ‘Phytochemicals in apples such as flavonoids and phenolic acids helped to calm the inflammation in the airways, which is a key feature in wheezing and asthma.’ In a 2001 study by the Department of Public Health Sciences, King’s College, London, published in the American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine, it was reported that adults who ate at least two apples a week reduced their asthma risk by up to a third. There are more than 20,000 flavonoids and one in particular, khellin, has been shown to open up airways due to its lipophilic properties. But the asthma-fighting qualities of this juicy fruit don’t stop there; apples are also high in antioxidants (natural disease fighters with anti-inflammatory benefits) and a rich source of quercetin, a bioflavonoid with strong antioxidant, anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties which have been shown to relive asthma/allergy symptoms in some asthma sufferers. www.nutritionj.biomedcentral.com
- Avocado – A rich source of glutathione (often described as the mother of all antioxidants) that protects cells against free radical damage and detoxifies foreign substances such as pollutants; without glutathione, other antioxidants are not able to function efficiently. Avocado is also a good source of vitamin E for those with nut allergies, another antioxidant that can help alleviate asthma symptoms.
- Banana – In one study, children who ate a banana each day were shown to have some protection from wheezing. The results were not surprising considering that bananas are one of the best sources of pyridoxine, commonly known as vitamin B6. Pyridoxine plays a critical role in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and cyclic adenosine monophosphate (CAMP), molecules that have been shown to help relax bronchial smooth muscle tissue. Several studies have shown pyridoxine dramatically reduces the intensity and frequency of asthma attacks. www.erj.ersjournals.com
- Broccoli – Once again, the antioxidants in broccoli sprouts, in particular, known as sulphorphanes, control airway inflammation which in turn may help reduce asthma symptoms. www.sciencedirect.com
- Carrots – High in carotenoid beta-carotene, a fat-soluble antioxidant that combats free radical damage that causes contraction of airway smooth muscle. Other good sources of beta-carotene include spinach, sweet potato, winter squash, mango, melon and apricots. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Endive (chicory) – Another rich source of beta-carotene (see carrots) and vitamin C, as well as potassium. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, highly effective at neutralising free radical damage. High levels of vitamin C also reduce histamine release in the body and make histamine breakdown faster. Histamine is a chemical produced by the body, which can increase inflammation in asthmatics and cause constriction of smooth muscle. Vitamins C and E are most effective when consumed together i.e. avocado and lemon. Data suggests that children with high intakes of vitamins C and E may be associated with a reduced prevalence of asthma. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Flaxseed – Flaxseeds are a great source of plant-based potassium, magnesium, selenium and one of the best types of plant-based omega-3. Potassium is a mineral associated with improved lung function and therefore reduced incidence of asthma, and requires adequate levels of magnesium in the diet to maintain adequate levels of potassium. A high dietary intake of magnesium has also been linked to reduced wheezing, possibly due to the ability of magnesium to help smooth muscle cells stay relaxed. Adding ground flaxseeds (to make them more accessible to your body) to your juices to make them a ‘thickie’ is a great way to increase the omega-3 ratio of your juices.
- Garlic – Garlic is rich in vitamin C, potassium and selenium, and we start to see the familiar anti-asthma antioxidants appear again and again which simply confirms that a diet high in antioxidant rich foods may just support people suffering with asthma and help alleviate their symptoms. Selenium is a potent nutritional antioxidant, important for various aspects of human health. Because asthma has been demonstrated to involve increased oxidative stress, levels of selenium intake have been hypothesised to play an important role in the pathogenesis of asthma. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov , www.healwithfood.org
- Ginger – It has been found that ginger aids bronchodilation and part of the explanation for the root’s benefits for asthma are its potent antioxidant activity, which is attributed to constituents such as gingerols, shogaols and zingerones. It is believed that these compounds have particular anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Kale – This leafy green is very high on the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) scale, a method of measuring antioxidant capacities in biological samples clinically and, as we have already seen, minimising oxidation and free radical damage is key to supporting those with asthma. It is also another good source of vitamin C and beta-carotene.
- Kiwi – Kiwis are a rich source of vitamin C, which we know is a great antioxidant. Including more fruits and veggies in your child’s and your own diet could help reduce inflammation, which in turn could help reduce any symptoms of asthma.
- Peppermint – According to the The George Mateljan Foundation, peppermint contains the substance rosmarinic acid, which has several actions that are beneficial in asthma. In addition to its antioxidant abilities to neutralise free radicals, rosmarinic acid has been shown to block the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals, such as leukotrienes. It also encourages cells to make substances called prostacyclins that keep the airways open for easy breathing. However, we must never underestimate the importance of bio-individuality and recognise that not everyone will respond well to all recommendations – the case of a lady who was allergic to mint which triggered her asthma is documented at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Pineapple – Continuous research from the University of Connecticut concluded that bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, significantly reduced the overall white blood cell count, which increases with the onset of asthma and may therefore have a therapeutic effect on the condition. www.todayspractitioner.com
- Rosemary – Another herb containing rosmarinic acid, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory (see peppermint).
- Spinach – This super leaf is rich in the antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, as well as magnesium and a rich source of potassium, all of which we know to be beneficial to asthma sufferers. www.webmd.com
- Sunflower seeds – Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds which lower oxidative stress and the presence of damaging free-radicals within the body, sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, potassium, magnesium and least likely to cause a reaction, for those allergic to nuts.
Minty Ginger Shot
1-Inch Ginger Root
x1 Handful Fresh Mint Leaves
How To Make
Make an apple and ginger sandwich with the mint leaves in the middle and juice together.
Asthma Tonic – taken from the Funky Fresh Juice app
¼ Medium Pineapple
x2 Stalks Celery
1-Inch Ginger Root
x1 Handful Raspberries
How To Make
Juice ingredients together or you can juice everything and blend in the raspberries.
x1 Kiwi (peeled)
¼ Cup Pineapple
½ Cup Spinach
x1 Handful Fresh Mint Leaves
¼ Cup Banana (ripe)
x Tbsp Flaxseeds
½ Cup Mineral Water
How To Make
Blend together and enjoy.
Please note, it is impossible to give a definitive list as what supports one person can be a trigger food or allergen for another. You must stay your own juice detective at all times and listen to how your own body responds to certain foods and always consult with your healthcare provider when making changes to your diet which may affect your medication. Please be aware that we are not doctors, so it is important to consult with your GP or medical practitioner BEFORE making any changes to your diet. The suggestions above are not meant as an alternative to any current medical treatment so please DO NOT stop taking any medications you are on. They are also not an endorsement of their effectiveness, or a recommendation that they should be followed but instead, are provided for informational purposes. None of the information on the Natural Juice Therapy site is intended or implied to treat, cure or prevent any condition or disease.