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.
• 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.
Recipe to help- Creamy cashew and 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!
Sneezing, runny nose, itchy watery red eyes, hay fever allergy is extremely common and affects 2 in 10 people in the UK each year. Hay fever is an allergy as you know and may have suffered from in the past. Like other reactions I covered this week, an allergic reaction is an immune response, and hay fever is no different. The most common trigger is of course pollen, dust mites, some pets, and also mould. During the high flying crazy pollen months your immune system is working extra hard for you even though you may feel like it’s given up on you! By boosting your immunity all year round but particularly during allergy season, you can help reduce the pesky hay fever symptoms.
Protocol to manage- There are certain things we can do to help support our bodies if you are suffering from hay fever.
• Bring down any inflammation in the body I especially like turmeric root for this- Add it to foods, like curries, eggs, stews and soups or take it as a supplement
• Follow an anti-inflammatory diet, lots of wholefoods, healthy fats like oily fish, avocados, cold pressed olive oil, fruits and veggies, legumes, organic free range eggs, clean proteins.
• Limit your intake of processed inflammatory foods- White flour, pastries, cakes, sugar, vegetable oils, deep fried foods, most packaged goods, some sauces and condiments (always check your ingredients)
• Prioritise your health and wellbeing all year round- Take time out for you, reduce stress, limit alcohol and cigarette consumption, get plenty of good quality deep sleep, eat a well-balanced nutritious diet (more to come there!)
• Boost your immunity with a cup of hot dandelion tea
• Consider herbal supplement- Nettle leaf: Not only is this herb abundantly mineral rich, nourishing the adrenals, and providing shiny healthy luscious hair, but it also doubles as a natural antihistamine. You can drink the tea or take in capsules, I like the tea! Red clover: I s equally as mineral and vitamin dense as nettle leaf, this herb improves circulation while clearing excess mucous due to its resinous substances s really great for blocked noses and runny eyes. Eye bright: An amazing herb rich in vitamin B, C, E, and beta-carotene alkaloids and antioxidants, this incredibly nourishing herb’s natural astringent-tannins reduce mucus discharge
• Keep windows and doors shut during high pollen season
• Avoid cutting grass, large grassy places
• Shower and wash your hair after being outdoors, especially after going to the countryside
• Wear some sunglasses when you are out to protect your eyes
• On car journeys keep windows closed and consider buying a pollen filter for the air vents in your car
• Use traditional hay fever medicine if needed to relive your symptoms- These include anti-histamines, nasal sprays and eye drops.
Recipe to help- Honey and nettle tea
1 cup of fresh nettles
4 tbsp of water
1 ½ tbsp. of raw organic/good quality honey
Collect some nettles and cut of the leaves with as little stem as possible (older looking nettles are much sweeter s look for these). You need a cup full roughly. Wash them thoroughly in warm water. Put the nettles in a large saucepan with 4 cups of water and add the honey.Put the pan on the hob and bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Taste the tea and add more honey if needed.
Also lovely on a hot summers day to relive any allergies: Make as before. Put the tea on the side for 30 minutes then transfer to the fridge for 2 hours. Serve with ice.