{Friday Musings} Overcoming Asthma with Paleo

Asthma (from the Greek άσθμα, ásthma, “panting”) is the common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. (From Wikipedia)

Asthma runs in my family.

I had a particularly bad case when I was a child.  My pediatrician diagnosed me at the ripe old age of 3, and I began seeing a specialist regularly.

My childhood was filled with nebulizers, multiple inhalers (bronchodilators and inhaled steroids) and topped off with prednisone.

I was on prednisone before I could swallow pills– I remember my mother putting it in vanilla ice cream (my sister was jealous that I got to eat ice cream everyday). But no amount of sugar could mask that which is prednisone. It’s the worst tasting stuff in the world– I have yet to taste anything nastier.

Everything seemed to trigger some kind of asthma attack: dust, horses, soccer, math…

Things got really bad when I was in 5th grade.

That's me in the middle at the height of my asthma and steroid use. Please be nice.

I spent two weeks in the hospital, one of which I was in intensive care, hooked up to a constant stream of inhaled medications. Bad news bears.

I’ve been hospitalized twice in my life, both times as a result of my asthma.

My inhalers were with me throughout high school and college. I continued to need them even after college. I can remember going to the gym, and then walking to the CVS across the street to get my shiny new inhalers– Albuterol and Flovent.

Then, about two years ago, I stopped re-filling my prescription.

At first it was out of laziness– I didn’t have time to go get a new prescription from my PCP.

And then, I just forgot about them.

And continued to forget about them.

A few weeks ago, my Dad asked me about my asthma. It was honestly the first time I’ve really thought about it in over a year.

“I haven’t need my inhaler in…wow…in, like, a year.” I told him. As someone who suffered through my asthmatic childhood with me, he was surprised.

When I think about it, I stopped needing my inhalers about one year into my Paleo journey.

It makes sense: asthma is a disease of chronic inflammation. I reduced my inflammation by transitioning to a grain-free, legume-free, mostly dairy-free diet.

I’ve improved my digestion dramatically and replenished those important gut bacteria. For me, my improved digestion is an indication that I had reduced inflammation.

Even though I don’t think about my asthma very much any more, and it rarely bothers me, I’m not sure that it’s cured.  I’m thinking that being born with asthma is different from developing it as an adult– that it will always be with me to some extent.

I’ll always have a voice in the back of my head telling me that my lungs are different from everyone else, but I no longer have to appease that voice with an inhaler.

If I can Crossfit and run 5 mile races without my inhaler, I’m thinking I can pretty much do anything.

Have you overcome a chronic illness by changing your diet? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below!

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7 Responses to {Friday Musings} Overcoming Asthma with Paleo

  1. Cheryl Anne June 13, 2012 at 7:21 AM #

    Brought here by your awesome Blueberry Crumble recipe via DessertStalker.

    Diagnosed very early on like you (plus it’s way easier to tell people what I’m not allergic to than what I am). Have noticed that after being 100% gluten-free and about 80% dairy-free, I’ve reduced my inhaled steroid to once daily. That’s huge! And I can’t even remember the last time my rescue inhaler was needed. Onward and upward!

    • Allison June 13, 2012 at 8:54 AM #

      Hi Cheryl Anne! Thanks for stopping by! And thanks for sharing your asthma experience–it’s really amazing that changing your diet can impact your lungs. I’m still constantly surprised and in awe of how changing what you eat can change everything!

  2. wickeddarkphotography November 18, 2012 at 9:50 AM #

    Your story could be mine. Wow. My parents even had to take away my pony! It’s a wonder I’m not psychotic. But I’ve just ditched my inhalers…well I have them, but I haven’t used them in almost 2 weeks and so far, symptom free. After only 5 months on a Primal (Sisson) diet. I didn’t really believe that going Primal would solve all my woes, but dammit if it doesn’t seem that way. Rock on!

    • Allison November 18, 2012 at 10:12 AM #

      Awesome! That’s great to hear. I used to ride too! I had to stop because the barn/horse allergens were too much for me– I was basically one big sneezy/red/runny nose and itchy eye for those years of my life…My mom still rides and the only time I really have to use my inhaler (I keep one around just in case) is when I’m around horses or in a hayloft.

  3. Dee February 21, 2013 at 9:11 PM #

    That is awesome! So happy for you. I’m a 40 something who appears to be developing asthma and so I am searching for ways to overcome it. I loved reading your story. It gives me hope.

  4. All Seasons Cyclist September 8, 2013 at 11:25 PM #

    Thanks for the article! I’ve had asthma for 12 years and have recently switched to a Paleo diet — I can already tell the difference in my breathing (and since I am a distance cyclist I need every bit of air I can get!).

  5. Lucy Cundiff December 14, 2016 at 10:08 AM #

    Is this still a forum going on now? I am really interested in this. I am really differing and could use some support of people who go through the same things. Even my pulmonologist thinks a lot of my issue is anxiety and over thinking. However, I do still have asthma and want it to go away!! I’ve dealt with it my whole life and I’m over it. Help!

Thoughts? Feel free to comment below!

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