Some days, I use my ventolin inhaler dozens of times … maybe up to forty puffs a day. I’ve had asthma and allergies for years, starting in childhood. As I’ve grown older, the allergies have held steady, while the asthma has become chronic.
I’ve used all kinds of drugs: monolukast (singulair), loratadine, prednisone, albuterol, symbicort, xopanex, and more. In general, these have helped. But my asthma is still there.
We moved to Verona, Italy nearly a year ago. In our first apartment, my asthma was the worst I’ve ever had. I went on high powered steroids and recovered. But that’s not a good long term solution.
My symptoms are up and down. I use my rescue inhaler at least three times a day, and up to thirty or forty times. The other night I woke up with such acute asthma that I came out to the living room at 3am and lied on the marble floor. If there was any trigger in the bedsheets I wanted to get away from them. Over the course of an hour I must have used my rescue inhaler forty times at least before I finally felt I could breathe.
It’s been years since I’ve done any serious running. The reason is that even just the thought of it makes me wheeze. I used to love finding that balance between comfort and fatigue, and running for miles. These days, though, within a few steps I’d start wheezing. The other day we rode a little loop over the bridges of the Adige river on our unicycles. I forgot my inhaler. Half way out on our loop – of course it’s the point furthes from the house, I knew I was in trouble. I focused on breathing smoothly, and barely made it home to my ventolin. I nearly passed out as I fell to the floor, then inhaled multiple puffs.
Until now I’ve assumed my asthma was caused by the same things that caused my allergies. Scratch tests revealed that I was highly allergic to grass, tree pollens, dust mites, mold, dander (cats and dogs), and hay. I’ve since learned I’m allergic to aspirin and ibuprofen.
But what about diet? While I’m keenly tuned into environmental triggers, I’ve never paid much attention to how my symptoms present themselves after various meals. Recently, a friend loaned me a book by Dr. J.S. Bland called The Disease Delusion. As I read about how powerful various foods are at turning genes off and on, I wondered if perhaps, these food triggers might be to blame for my increasingly chronic asthma.
The best way to identify food allergies, is by doing an elimination diet. So here I am. Today is day one. I just brewed a batch of ‘Ultrabroth’, and rather than throwing away the veggies, I’m eating them. I’m reminded of how much I like winter squashes, mushrooms and cruciferous veggies as I chow down on this mushy broth mix. Why don’t I cook with them more? Well, over the next three weeks, I will be. Here’s my plan:
Foods I’m cutting out: (note: these will be added back one at a time after at least a week of the elimination diet).
NO: wheat / gluten, dairy, soy, all added sugar, peanuts, corn, eggs, processed foods, hydrogenated oils, tomatoes, lentils, legumes, citrus, bananas, apples.
Foods I’m gonna harf:
YES: cruciferous veggies, squashes, root veggies, avocados, brown rice, pear, mango, berries, turkey, lamb, olive oil, ginger.
I’m adding a vitamin regime: vitamin c, fish oil, gut flora supplements, and a daily multi-vitamin .
Week #1: most restrictive diet. Everything on the eliminate list is verboten. Sticking to medicine routine including symbicort, monolukast, and loratadine. Emergency inhaler as needed (obviously).
Week #2: If things seem to be going okay, stop taking my daily symbicort.
Week #3: Consider dropping the monolukast
Week #4: Add back in eggs. I suspect eggs as a culprit. Toward end of week, add back in almonds. I don’t suspect them as an allergen, but I love them and want to start eating them asap.
Week #5: Add back in whole fat yogurt with beneficial gut flora.
Week #6: Add in various fruits including tomatoes. Try lentils and other legumes.
Week #7: Add in wheat, peanuts and corn.
So that’s the plan. I’ll report in every few days on my progress and observations.