avocados asthma functional medicine

Functional medicine nutritionist at The UltraWellness Center, Lisa Dreher is sharing about this 5 week elimination diet class beginning October 1. The goal of the class (with under twenty spots total!) is to walk students through the elimination and reintroduction process to address a wide range of issues. Health concerns from autoimmune conditions (such as Hashimoto’s, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, or rheumatoid arthritis), irritable bowel, asthma and even ADHD can all benefit from a program like this designed to identify foods or allergens at the root of an issue. 

We asked Lisa to break down just one of these conditions in depth and she chose to share this deep dive on asthma. Consider this fall’s class or share this information with a friend who may need to learn more about managing asthma themselves… 

Asthma is a common condition where the airways episodically become inflamed and constricted, making it difficult for the person to breathe. Over 25 million people in the United States suffer from asthma, which is 1 out of every 13 Americans. This has been a concern for a long time, but in the coronavirus era, people with asthma are especially focused on how they can protect themselves from serious illness if they develop Covid-19. In fact, the World Health Organization reports that 339 million people are living with asthma worldwide as of 2020. This number has been increasing since the 1980’s and continues to rise every year. In functional medicine, we always ask the question “why?”

When you take an honest look at our environment, it’s no surprise as to why asthma has become such a huge problem. Over the past several decades, there has been a huge increase in environmental toxins and pollution, herbicides and pesticides in our food, excess use of antibiotics and other medications, as well as an enormous surge in the production and consumption of processed foods and sugar. These highly processed compounds can cause unhealthy changes to our gut microbiome and cause leaky gut (intestinal permeability), which sets the stage for food sensitivities and allergies.

When our gut is out of balance, it can cause inflammation throughout the body and makes us more vulnerable to the negative impacts of toxins, allergens, and infections.

Getting the gut healthy is our top priority in addressing asthma, as well as all chronic inflammatory conditions. To do this, practitioners of functional medicine use a very effective strategy called the 5 R Protocol (5RP) which can improve or even reverse many chronic conditions, and asthma is no exception.

Most people who have asthma are treated with rescue and controller inhalers and, in more severe cases, oral steroids. While these can be life-saving, it is important to remember that these are reactive treatments to reduce inflammation, not a proactive approach to identifying the root cause of the inflammation. Rescue medication needs to be used when necessary, but if we can bring balance to the body using the 5RP and prevent the inflammation from developing in the first place, many people find themselves reaching for inhalers far less often, if ever.

So, how does the 5RP work with respect to asthma? Let’s take a look:

The 5 R Protocol (5RP) for Asthma

Remove. Identifying and removing allergens and sensitivities are key to asthma prevention.

+ Immunoglobulin E (IgE) allergic reactions Working with a physician to test for immune-mediated Immunoglobulin E (IgE) allergic reactions to foods, pollens, dust mites, and other environmental triggers is important.

+ Immunoglobulin G (IgG) allergic reactions Asthma may also be triggered by food sensitivities such as gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and others through an Immunoglobulin G (IgG) reaction which cannot be picked up by IgE allergy testing.

Symptoms of food sensitivities can show up several hours or days after the food is eaten, which makes them tricky to identify. This is why an elimination diet remains the gold standard for identifying sensitivities and controlling symptoms. In fact, it has been so successful in practice, the UltraWellness Center has developed a 5 week “Eliminate to Feel Great” virtual class that will be offered on Zoom and is set to launch in early October 2020. One of our functional nutritionists will guide the group through a comprehensive elimination diet and reintroduction process. If you are interested in joining this class, click here to reserve your spot!

Replace. It is estimated that 68% of Americans aren’t getting enough magnesium, almost 90% aren’t getting enough omega-3 fatty acids, and even if people are outside in the sun, the majority of Americans are vitamin D insufficient or deficient. These three nutrients have been linked to more frequent and severe asthma symptoms. I recommend testing for nutritional deficiencies and supplementing based on your individual needs with a licensed practitioner. However, supplementing with magnesium glycinate, balanced EPA/DHA omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D3 for 2-3 months can make a potentially huge difference with minimal risk.

Reinoculate. Adding healthy microbes (probiotics) to your gut along with food that feeds those healthy microbes (known as prebiotics) are key to supporting gut health and healing. The healthier your gut, the healthier the rest of your body, including the lungs. Science is beginning to understand that certain strains of bacteria may be especially helpful for our ear/nose/throat and lungs, such as Streptococcus salvarius, Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus fermentum. And in order to help feed these protective bacteria, we encourage prebiotic-rich foods such as asparagus, raw onion and garlic, under ripe banana, and dandelion greens.

Repair. There are key nutrients that support the healing of the lining of the gut. These nutrients also support the immune system and keep inflammation at bay, so they are multi-purpose! Antioxidant-rich foods are so important here. Think of foods high in vitamin C – broccoli and red bell peppers; vitamin E – sunflower seeds and avocado; zinc – oysters and pumpkin seeds, and other antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, dark leafy greens, and herbs/spices. Some people may require additional supplementation with nutrients such as glutamine and quercetin.

Re-balance. Last and certainly not least is re-balance, which is the most overlooked step but just as important as the first 4. You must take the time to adopt healthy lifestyle habits such as stress reduction techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, and incorporating hands-on healing like acupuncture and osteopathic manipulation. These are effective at any stage and can be especially effective for long-term management and prevention of asthma flares.

The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.

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  1. This article refers to “practitioners of functional medicine” and I’m interested to know precisely what the qualifications are of such a ‘practitioner’ and how/if they are accredited? If yes, by whom?

    Naomi | 09.11.2020 | Reply
  2. The last R includes osteopathic manipulation. Interesting. Majority of DOs today don’t even know how to manipulate or even want to. DOs are just MDs these days. I have one dear friend who is one of the last DOs who still practices the true osteopathy. But the disappointing part of the whole article is the lack of mentioning of chiropractic care. There has been studies and case studies of how chiropractic care specifically of the cervical and thoracic regions relieved asthma. Perhaps the author(s) are not familiar with chiropractic?

    DrArthur | 09.12.2020 | Reply

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