Do You Know Nutrition: Better eating for better breathing

Phylis Canion

I have been asthmatic for a few years and was wondering if there are any foods that can help asthma? I eat pretty healthy, have eliminated milk and caffeine and drink half my body weight in ounces of water daily as you recommend and have noticed a big difference. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease in which there is inflammation of the air passages that makes breathing difficult. The inflammation results in a temporary narrowing of the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs.

Symptoms can be brought on by various triggers such as respiratory infections, exercise, stress, cold air, pollen, mold, animal dander and dust mites. Probably the most missed trigger is diet and the food we eat because so much of our food supply is processed and contains additives, preservatives, dyes and artificial ingredients and substitutes that stress the digestive system and, therefore, impair the body's immunity.

According to an article published in Thorax International Journal of Respiratory Medicine, anti-inflammatory foods can help reverse asthma, including a food that can help reduce wheezing by 44 percent, shortness of breath by 32 percent and reduce night-time cough by 27 percent.

That food - and this may surprise you - is kiwi. Kiwi contains the highest density of absorbable vitamin C and stimulates intestinal movements because it contains an abundance of fiber.

A study conducted by Bristol University and the Burnham Institute in California indicated that high fiber content found in the kiwi fruit helps to prevent colon cancer because the fiber produces sodium butyrate, a type of acid that has been observed to block the activity of a cancer-causing gene. The fiber helps rid the body of toxins naturally, which benefits and builds the body's immunity, which can help reduce asthmatic attacks.

Reishi mushrooms, which contain ganoderic acids, is also beneficial in treating asthma because of its immune-enhancing benefits and calming effects. Beta carotene helps with asthma; therefore goji berries, the single richest source of beta carotene of all foods, is also recommended.

Thought for the week: The simple things we should be thankful for we ignore; the simple pleasures we take advantage of we just assume will always be there. Happy Thanksgiving.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, e-mail her at doc.phyl@yahoo.com. This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.