Teresa Fuller MD, PhD
While spring is a welcome relief from the cold and dreary winter for many of us, it can be a time of misery for children suffering with asthma. The blooming of trees with the accompanying pollen trigger wheezing, coughing, and other unwelcome symptoms for a rising number of children with asthma. Asthma now affects 1 in 11 children. The incidence has been rising over the past few decades, with an increase of 15% just in the past decade.
The conventional medical approach to asthma is to relieve the symptoms as much as possible with the use of bronchodilators and steroids. Bronchodilators open the airways, while steroids suppress the inflammatory response that the body produces to harmless stimuli, such as pollen from flowers and weeds. The other approach is to identify the child’s triggers and avoid them. But so many triggers, such as pollen, mold and dust mites are impossible to completely avoid. While these are necessary treatments to control asthma symptoms, how about getting to the root causes of symptoms to help the body stop “overreacting” to these stimuli in the first place? Here are four strategies of a holistic approach to asthma treatment that can reduce or even stop asthma at its root.
Feed your child an anti-inflammatory diet
Asthma is an inflammatory disease, which means that the body’s immune system is fired up, trying to battle the environmental assaults. An anti-inflammatory diet is one that can help “calm the fire.” This is a diet rich in antioxidants and free of foods that further inflame the system. Therefore, your child’s diet needs to be rich in natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. These plant foods provide an abundant supply of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. On the other hand, you want to rid your child’s diet of inflammatory foods such as artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and sweeteners found in many so-called “kid-friendly” foods. White sugar and white flour products are also inflammatory. And dairy products are a frequent source of inflammation for many children with asthma.