Asthma rates have been steadily climbing in the U.S., increasing from 7.3 percent to 8.4 percent between 2001 and 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Steroids and other conventional asthma medications can have serious side effects, leading some patients to seek safer options with which to manage asthma. Nutritional approaches may help some asthma sufferers decrease symptoms and be more self-reliant in their health care. Talk with your doctor about using such changes to control asthma.
Reversing Nutritional Deficiencies
Diet and nutritional modifications are the most common method for managing asthma in natural and integrative medicine, according to the University of Michigan Department of Family Medicine. Work with your doctor or nutritionist to identify and reverse any nutritional deficiencies to help reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.
Adding or removing certain foods or supplements from your diet can strengthen your immune system against allergens and reduce chronic inflammation, contends Shelden Zerden, editor of "The Best of Health." A study of childhood asthma, published in the April 2005 issue of the journal "Indian Pediatrics," found that elimination diets improved symptoms in mild, persistent asthma. Each study participant eliminated foods to which they were found to be allergic, such as cereals, legumes, fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products and spices.
Diets high in antioxidant-rich foods may help reduce the occurrence of asthma in children, according to a study reported in the October 2012 issue of the journal "Public Health Nutrition." The survey-based study of 452 children ages 3 to 6 found that those who consumed the lowest amounts of vitamins C and E had the highest rates of asthma. Higher fruit intake showed a slight protective effect, while fat content of foods showed no association with asthma occurrence or symptom severity in this study.
Vitamin D supplementation may offer a variety of substantial benefits for preventing and treating asthma, according to a study, published in the September 2011 issue of the journal "Pediatric Respiratory Reviews." Vitamin D may affect lung function through its modulation of other functions, such as muscle strength, including muscles that assist with breathing, and steroid hormones, which suppress inflammation. Vitamin D also inhibits inflammation by activating certain white blood cells that modulate inflammation and by improving resistance to infection. Vitamin D supplementation also increases the effectiveness of steroid medications, potentially allowing for less use of inhalers and other medications, noted researchers of a study, published in the September 2012 issue of the "American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine."
- University of Michigan Department of Family Medicine: Integrative Approach to Asthma
- Indian Pediatrics: Avoidance of Food Allergens in Childhood Asthma
- Public Health Nutrition: Associations of Intake of Antioxidant Vitamins and Fatty Acids with Asthma in Preschool Children
- Pediatric Respiratory Reviews: Vitamin D and Asthma in Children
- American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine: Effect of Vitamin D and Inhaled Corticosteroid Treatment on Lung Function in Children
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Trends in Asthma Prevalence, Health Care Use and Mortality in the United States
Tracey Roizman, DC is a writer and speaker on natural and preventive health care and a practicing chiropractor. She also holds a B.S. in nutritional biochemistry.