May 20, 2018
Do you or your children have asthma? Common signs include coughing at night or early in the morning, wheezing and shortness of breath. In today’s show, we’ll share some nutrition tips that you can use to reduce your asthma symptoms.
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CASSIE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. This show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. I'm Cassie Weness. I'm a registered and licensed dietician and I've been teaching and counseling clients about nutrition for the past 20 years now and even after all this time, I still have a passion for the health benefits of eating real food. We're happy to have all of you joining us on Dishing Up Nutrition today.
KARA: Yes. Good afternoon to all of our listeners. I'm Kara Carper. I'm a licensed nutritionist and I have my master's degree in holistic health. I've been counseling and teaching at Nutritional Weight & Wellness actually for 14 years now. If you or your child struggle with asthma, I invite you to keep listening. We have some really interesting facts about asthma and more importantly we're going to share some nutritional practices that you can use to reduce those asthma symptoms, which can be very, very debilitating.
CASSIE: Absolutely. So if you're listening and you have asthma or if you have a child that has asthma, you probably know the signs and symptoms, but I'm going to name some of the more common ones. For those people that might not be aware, some of the common signs of asthma would be coughing at night or maybe it's not nighttime coughing, but maybe early in the morning you get those coughing bouts. That can be a sign of asthma, wheezing of course is a sign of asthma, shortness of breath would be another sign or symptom. And it's important to realize that the frequency and the severity of asthma can vary quite a lot. It can be, you know, just a little bit annoying or some people have very severe symptoms that can even be life threatening.
KARA: As a parent, I know if I had a child with asthma, I would want to do anything that I could to figure out what was causing that asthma so that I could fix it. I'd want to know what I could do about keeping symptoms in check and I would ask myself, how can I help my child get rid of these terrible scary symptoms. Cassie, you and I both have kids in school and every once in a while, you're down at the nurse's office for one reason or another and while I was in there, several kids were coming in and doing their inhaler and it just reminded me that it's very prevalent these days.
CASSIE: It is and you were just saying that as a parent you would want to know what could I do to fix the problem? And that's where our mind goes right away, right? What can I do to fix the problem? Which means let's get at the core of what's causing this. But unfortunately the mindset of so many Americans is what drug either prescription or over the counter can I get to cover up these symptoms? And I think that's the mindset of a lot of doctors as well. But we're going to talk today about getting to the core of the problem. And this is such a great topic. As many of you know, asthma is a big problem for a lot of people in this country. In fact, almost nine percent of people in America have asthma and the scary part is that number continues to climb every year and I think it's interesting that when we look at children, more boys than girls have asthma, but then that changes in adulthood. As adults, more women than men have asthma.
KARA: Sometimes when a parent brings their child in to see me to do one on one counseling, they're hoping that if their child ate better, they would have fewer symptoms of asthma. And I always ask them, “Hey, have you ever thought about having everyone in your house go gluten free just for three to four weeks to see if that's going to help reduce those asthma symptoms in your child?” A lot of times we see a look of fear come across the face of the parents, which is completely understandable. I know that it's a big thing to try gluten free, but they'll say something like, “You mean I won't be able to have my toast for breakfast? I came in for my child, not for me!” So, at first many people do think that going gluten free might be a fad or the first thing that jumps to their mind is I'm going to have to give up my favorite foods, like my toast for breakfast.
CASSIE: It's scary. I remember when I learned that we had to go gluten free. It is fear at first. And I think Kara, probably for a lot of the listeners, this is new information that going gluten free could get rid of or at least lessen your asthma symptoms. So, if that is new information for you, you're probably talking back to the radio saying, “What are you Dietitians saying? Go Gluten free to tame down my asthma?” Well, we are saying that it does work for a lot of people and we could probably take all hour just explaining why go gluten free. But I'll just say a couple of things. First of all, we know that the incidence of people suffering with asthma in the United States continues to rise every year. We also know that the frequency of people being diagnosed with gluten intolerance is rising every year, so right there possibly is a correlation. Also, asthma is considered an auto immune disease and there are different ranges of gluten intolerance, but if you have celiac disease, that's sort of a full-blown reaction to gluten and that is an autoimmune reaction to gluten. So, asthma and celiac disease, both being autoimmune, and we know that autoimmune diseases often run in multiples, so something to think about.
KARA: And there's so much research on that connection between autoimmune conditions and a gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity. So there's where we have that connection. But, the answer seems to be to your question, are asthma and gluten related? And yes, according to a study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in April 2011, they found a definite correlation.
CASSIE: So, in other words, it's not just us at Nutritional Weight & Wellness speculating that there's a connection. There's published research showing a definite link, as Kara said, between asthma and gluten intolerance. And yet, another reason to put faith in this correlation is that if we look back at history, we see that asthma-like symptoms actually started way back in the 1700’s. And it's interesting to read up on this because the documentation shows that the large majority of people that had asthma-like symptoms in the 1700’s were bread bakers. So think about bread bakers, right? They were exposed to large amounts of flour dust and thus many of them suffered respiratory symptoms. And when you think about breathing in that wheat flour, that gluten, your nostrils, all of that eventually gets down into your digestive tract. When you breathe things in, it's all connected and that gets down to your throat and then you're actually ingesting those gluten grains, or these bread bakers were back in the 1700’s. And this is the very first known connection. These bread bakers back in the 1700’s. The very first known connection between gluten grains and asthma.
KARA: That is really interesting. I didn't know that before we put the show together. At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we commonly see clients who have been diagnosed with one or several autoimmune disorders. Like you said, often when people have one autoimmune disorder, they're more susceptible to acquiring another autoimmune disorder, and often in children that autoimmune disease is asthma. And when we take clients off of gluten grains, within about three weeks, all of a sudden, the children are no longer wheezing or coughing or trying to catch their breath. So, in just a matter of I would say two to four weeks, we can see those results.
CASSIE: Especially in kids. Kids tend to heal faster than us adults. As I said earlier, it can be scary when you first hear that you have to go gluten free, but when you get results like this, your children are no longer wheezing, coughing or maybe it's you yourself, it's so worth it. And I have a couple of other remarks from clients at Nutritional Weight & Wellness that have gone gluten free that I want to share because I think these remarks can be really motivating for people out there who are kind of sitting on the fence. Here's a comment from a class member at Nutritional Weight & Wellness and she says, “I went gluten free and within 36 hours my asthma symptoms were completely gone.” So for her it happened really quickly. Another comment I have here, this was a gentleman that said, “My nutritionist at Nutritional Weight & Wellness recommended that I go off of gluten to reduce the pain and inflammation in my knee. And I actually ended up getting a two for one. I went off of gluten. I got rid of my knee pain and I was able to stop using my inhaler. Isn't that big? And I have something I want to share, too, that I think my 12-year-old son would say if I were to ask him about what going gluten free has done for him, but I'll save that until we get back from our first commercial break because we're already up to that first break. If you are just tuning in, you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. This show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness.
KARA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I'd like to share a quick personal story about just a situation that I had with some food cravings. This was before I learned that it was important for me to eat every two and a half to three hours, I would say. Before I found Nutritional Weight & Wellness. I had never really heard that before. That if you have cravings for sugar or processed carbohydrates like crackers, chips, things like that, that that could be a sign of low blood sugar from not eating frequently enough. So, when I learned this information, I started eating about every three hours throughout the day. Just like magic, those cravings disappeared and that's just because I was balancing my blood sugar. But, I couldn't just eat anything every three hours. It was really important to eat a combination of protein, vegetable carbohydrates, and healthy fat every three hours. So you want to know how I feel now? I feel great and when I eat that way I don't have those cravings. Energy, focus, everything is better. So, if you are interested in learning more about how to eat that way, just call our office called 651-699-3438 to set up an appointment and you can become free of cravings just like I did.
CASSIE: I remember when I took my very first Nutritional Weight & Wellness class and the teacher said, “I'm going to teach you how to live craving free.” And I thought, “Whatever. You don't know my cravings, lady. I will never get rid of my cravings.”
KARA: Don't you think a lot of people think that. They're like, “Well, that might work for someone else.”
CASSIE: I bet they do. And I tell you, I had such awful cravings. It consumed so much of my day that I can see why looking back that I thought, “No, this is always going to be a part of me.” But it's not. And now it's not because I eat frequently and I know what foods to choose.
Well, before we went to break I was reading some comments.
KARA: You gave a couple of comments or testimonials from people who had changed their way of eating and reduced a lot of their symptoms.
CASSIE: Not just asthma, but I loved the one about the gentleman that also got rid of his knee pain and stopped using an inhaler and I was going to say, too, because I know it will help someone out there listening. If I were to ask my 12-year-old son how getting gluten 100% out of his diet has helped him, he would be quick to say that going gluten free got rid of the awful acid reflux that he struggled with for four long years until we found out the culprit. And it's certainly not just him. I've had numerous clients over the years who have successfully gotten rid of their heartburn or sometimes we call it acid reflux by getting gluten grains out of their diet.
KARA: It's completely worth trying. I know it can sound daunting, but if you just pick a three to four-week period, it's so worth it.
CASSIE: And just shop the perimeter of the grocery store because it is daunting at first and if you can just stay with real food that makes your meal planning easier.
KARA: That's great advice. And not relying on gluten free bread, rice, or pasta.
CASSIE: Because the sugar will keep the inflammation burning.
KARA: So, people switching over to vegetable and fruit carbohydrates is really the best option. So, asthma, acid reflux, knee pain, acne, ulcerative colitis, lupus, and even autism are all considered diseases that stem from chronic inflammation. And as nutritionists and dieticians, we look at how we can help clients reverse inflammation and these autoimmune conditions. We really believe that food matters. So we start with food first. If you're listening and you suffer from an autoimmune condition, any kind of inflammation is going to make your symptoms worse. So when inflammation is chronic, it can stress really anything in your body. I think people hear inflammation and they think, “Oh, my knees hurt. Or I have tennis elbow.” Or something like that. And while that is true, inflammation can stress other parts of the body, like the lungs or chronic headaches. That's inflammation. Acne breakouts, that's inflammation of the skin. So, by changing eating, we can reduce inflammation throughout the entire body.
CASSIE: Just listening to you, Kara, it's taking me back to some of the recent classes I've taught. And you've probably gotten this before too, but it's not uncommon when I'm teaching a class, if I mention, “You might want to try getting rid of the bread, going gluten free.” It's not uncommon for people to ask. “Yeah, but bread has been around since the beginning of time, so how can it be so bad for us?” Have you ever heard that?
KARA: I hear that quite a bit and classes and one on one with clients.
CASSIE: So, we have to be prepared to answer that question and I think there are a lot of good ways we can answer it, but sometimes I will just say, the reality is today's bread is very different than the bread that our great great grandparents ate. And another way you could answer this is that the bread that we eat today is even different than it is in Europe. They don't have grains that have been hybridized so much to change the DNA makeup, so their bread is a bit more natural, I would say. And I've had clients and some class members tell me about their travels to Europe and when they go there, oftentimes they are able to eat bread, drink the beer and not have any bad reaction. Then they come back to the United States and they try it. They eat some bread or they eat some pasta and their immune system, again, reacts terribly and that inflammation ensues.
KARA: I've heard that as well and that's a really common thing where people travel, specifically to Europe, is where we hear about going to France and eating the bread and not having the same kind of reaction. So, if you do have asthma, we recommend that you stop eating gluten grains. And so just to let you know, and if you're not familiar with gluten, gluten is a protein and it's found in certain grains. It's found in wheat, rye, barley, cous cous, spelt, and kamut. And these grains, some of them are more traditional, not very common, but all of those gluten-containing grains put stress on the body and can trigger inflammation.
CASSIE: So, to me, a simple solution to reducing that inflammation in your lungs or that inflammation in your knees that's giving you knee pain or maybe it's your elbows or the joints of your hand. Wherever your inflammation is. A simple solution would be give up eating the bread, give up the pasta. No more cold breakfast cereal. No more muffins, no more cookies, no more any food that contains those gluten grains. Try that for six weeks. I encourage you to mark it on your calendar. Mark your start date, pound out six weeks, mark your end date, and at the end of that six weeks, really assess and see how you feel. If you can breathe easier and those asthma symptoms have really lessened or maybe went away altogether, then your body is telling you that you need to be gluten free. I mean really, it's not me saying, “Oh, I recommend that you go gluten free.” It's your body recommending it. Let your body tell you what it needs. And earlier I said that going gluten free or giving up foods containing gluten is a simple solution. Well, what I meant by that is that it's simple to say and it's pretty straightforward, but I know from experience that it's not easy. So, having said that, I want to share a few more comments from some Nutritional Weight & Wellness clients who have given up gluten. Because again, these can be so motivating. We had one client simply say, “I gave up gluten and now I have so much more energy.” So, if you're wanting more energy, maybe try giving up the gluten. Another client shared, “I've lost 10 pounds since January and all I did was give up gluten.” And then we had a gentleman remark, “My skin is so much better. I don't have rashes on my arms and my Eczema is gone.” And that was all from giving up gluten. One more I'm going to share and we have to go to another break. We had a mom take a Weight & Wellness class and then she had her whole family go gluten free and this mom said, “Now that we are gluten free, my child's focus is better and she has such an easier time getting her homework done.” That right there is worth it. And I have a couple more remarks to share when we get back from break.
You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. A little bit of food for thought before we break. Kara and I realized that lifestyle habits can be difficult to change, and food habits are usually even more difficult to control and change. I mean, let's face it, there are sugary treats everywhere. They’re at the checkout lane in the grocery store. They're at my kid's basketball games. They’re at family reunions. They’re at the coffee socials after mass at church. So, for all of these reasons, most people need help keeping their eyes closed to these temptations. And to do this, many of our clients make monthly appointments to help them sort of keep those blinders on. If you're interested, you can give us a call at 651-699-3438 to either sign up for a class to help you resist these temptations or to come in for a one on one appointment. We have solutions for you and we can help get you on the right path.
KARA: Welcome back. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Today, we're discussing ways that you can prevent an asthma attack. I think most people realize that the essential fatty acid called Omega 3 fish oil reduces inflammation, so that's really important. If someone has asthma, another essential fatty acid called GLA, gamma linolenic acid, has also been found to reduce inflammation in the lungs. Many of my clients use that. We always talk about focusing on food first, but sometimes it's necessary to add in supplements to really reduce those asthma symptoms. So, typically we would recommend 400 to 600 milligrams of GLA. There are other benefits of GLA as well, not just reducing asthma inflammation, but it's great for the skin. It hydrates the skin so it can actually reduce wrinkles.
CASSIE: It's great if you have cracked heels and this time of the year in summer you want to fix up those heels so you can wear your sandals. Or the bumps on the back of the arms or bumpy elbows. I had a client with terrible cracked fingertips. And she ended up doing six GLA a day, two with each meal, and it went away.
KARA: I always think of GLA as we know it reduces overall inflammation and works for asthma. But I also think of it being for skin, hair, and nails. So, like dry hair, dry, cracked skin, problems with fingernails. So, both Omega-3 fish oil and GLA, those supplements are available at all seven of our offices. They're also online. They can be purchased online on our website.
CASSIE: And you did mention, Kara, that at Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we do always talk about food first, but wouldn't you say these are two nutrients, the Omega 3 fish oils and the GLA, that are really hard for most people to get from food in adequate levels?
KARA: I would definitely agree and I think that's why so much of the population is deficient in these. We call them essential fatty acids, which means our bodies aren't making these. We have to get them from outside sources and quite honestly, it's hard to get enough of these from food when we have something like asthma.
CASSIE: Right. Somebody with asthma, I think of as needing a therapeutic dose of Omega 3’s and GLA, which is going to be more, most likely, than you're going to be able to get through food, so something to think about. Before we went to break, I was sharing some more comments from Nutritional Weight & Wellness clients and on that note, just one more thing I wanted to mention was if you were listening at the start of the show, I briefly mentioned that my 12-year-old believes that it's worth it to be gluten free, so I just wanted to bring that up again. My 12-year-old is gluten free because then he doesn't have that terrible acid reflux anymore, so if you're suffering with heartburn or acid reflux, maybe it's time to try at least giving up the gluten. Now, I know full well from experience that going gluten free is hard work at first, but as you've heard from these comments from clients that I've been reading, it can totally be worth it and I promise you it does get to be much easier with time to eat gluten free.
KARA: It does become second nature. When something is new, at first it takes a little bit more energy and time put into it, but just like anything else, like brushing your teeth, after probably a few months, you're gluten free, you know your recipes, how to prepare.
CASSIE: And I will say, having two kids with celiac disease and then myself having a gluten intolerance, it's even getting to be an easier world to help my kids navigate gluten free. And I'm thinking of just last weekend my son was invited to a birthday party, a 12-year-old friend of his, and I was just over the moon happy when the mom got ahold of me and said we're going to be completely gluten free and dairy free because apparently, they've been doing that in the whole house for the last year for the health benefits of the daughter that was having the party. So, for the first time in Riley's life I didn't have to bring his own food to the birthday party. So, it was great for me, but it was great for him to be included. So, it's getting easier as more and more people find that going gluten free for their health is worth it.
KARA: And there are a lot of options for replacements. As nutritionists and dieticians, when we're working with clients who have asthma, we always dig deeper into what's going to help their lungs function better. To function well, your lungs need a compound, it's called lung surfactant, and that's a substance that allows the passage of air in and out of your lungs. And so we have oxygen rich air coming in, and as we breathe in, as we inhale, we get rid of carbon dioxide as we breathe out or exhale. So, it's that surfactant substance that has phospholipids. They're made up of two fatty acids and that allows air to pass through the surfactant membrane. However, there can be problems with the structure of this. When people eat trans fats, that can cause problems with the surfactant structure. So, in simpler terms, if you or your child are eating foods that have trans fats, which are labeled as partially hydrogenated oils or hydrogenated oils, that's going to interfere with the passage of air.
CASSIE: So interesting. And think of how many kids are eating trans fats every day and then think of how many kids have asthma.
KARA: So, this is really important to know what foods contain trans fats. Unfortunately, a lot of these foods like fries, sheet cake, which is huge this time of year with graduations, right? Graduations, birthdays, frozen pizza, a lot of those frozen meals, store bought cookies and just a lot of store bought baked goods in general. If you look at the label or you ask to look at the bakery, like the sheet cake label, you will see hydrogenated oil. And the lungs are going to struggle with the oxygen coming in and the carbon dioxide going out if there's a consumption of trans fats. So, on the flip side, if we eat different fats like saturated fat, we'll give examples. Saturated fat would be like butter, coconut oil or even things like olive oil. That's going to help the surfactant membrane work and breathing becomes easier.
CASSIE: See, I find all this so fascinating, and you did a good job describing. And that leads me right into some of the research that I was reading and preparing for the show. There are actually several different studies out there showing that kids who eat butter and drink whole milk, so like you were saying, saturated fat is good for this membrane in the lungs. These studies showed that kids who eat butter and drink whole fat milk, so two things high in saturated fat, have less asthma than kids who are drinking skim milk and eating margarine. And just let me say because I get on my soapbox about chocolate skim milk. It is served every day at my kid's school. Chocolate skim milk is one of the worst beverages that a child could drink. Especially a child that has asthma. It's high in sugar and we don't even have time today to get into how all that sugar makes your asthma worse and it's lacking that good saturated fat that helps the lungs operate as they should.
KARA: It's skim. So, the fat has been removed. So, this might be a whole topic of new information for listeners. But just know there's a lot of research. We've done other shows talking about the importance of butter, whole milk, saturated fats when it comes to the lung tissue. And actually, we're very pleased that the FDA has banned the use of trans fats in all foods for humans and that's coming up around the corner as of June 18th, 2018. So, now the World Health Organization released a plan to help countries wipe out trans fats from the global food supply over the next five years. Isn't that exciting?
CASSIE: It's exciting, but why do I get so mad? Because it should have been done 20 years ago.
KARA: The United Nations health agency said eliminating trans fats is critical to preventing deaths worldwide. So, the World Health Organization estimates that eating trans fats, which again are baked and processed foods, leads to the death of more than 500,000 people per year from heart disease. So half a million people are thought to die each year because they're eating trans fats found in baked and processed foods. So, this is really a crisis.
CASSIE: It absolutely is. So, you stated that the UN said eliminating trans fats is critical to preventing deaths. Another way we could say that is stop eating fast food, French fries, stop eating microwave popcorn, stop eating store bought donuts if you want to prevent death from heart disease. But yes, like you said, it is good that it's finally going to be banned.
We are going to take another quick commercial break and come back and talk more about this topic of asthma.
KARA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Thank goodness the fat free starvation diets are a thing of the past and thank goodness the FDA has finally put a ban on the use of trans fats in human food. And also thank goodness that there is a sensible, healthy, easy, real food plan to help you restore your health and lose some of those extra pounds you may have acquired over the winter months. During the month of June, we have eight Nutrition 4 Weight Loss sessions starting. Plus, you can always enroll in our Online Nutrition 4 Weight Loss series anytime. You don't have to wait until June and you can watch the online series from anywhere you like. You could do it from the lake or the cabin. I mean assuming that you have good Internet access, we really want to make it convenient for you to get healthy. So, give our office a call today, 651-699-3438. And you can talk to our front desk staff about signing up or you can sign up online. And that's just a great series, I think of it as like a spring cleaning for the body.
CASSIE: And I think a big part of it is that it's every week. So, it kind of helps to hold you accountable.
KARA: Yes. People love the accountability, whether they're in person or even folks online have the Facebook support page. So there's another way to be connected even if you are choosing to do that from home. Cassie, we had a caller that called in over break that did not stay on air, but she had a question. So, if you are just tuning in or you haven't heard the whole show, we're talking about asthma today and ways to really get to the root cause so we can reduce asthma symptoms. Two things we've talked about so far are going gluten free for four to six weeks and eliminating trans fats from the diet. So, the caller had a great question. She said, “If I'm going to purchase a gluten free bread, would that potentially have trans fats?”
CASSIE: And the first thing I think we should say about that is don't turn to those processed gluten free foods too much because they turn to a lot of sugar and that's a piece that we don't have time to get to in the show, but that sugar can continue to create inflammation in your lungs. And so, you might not see your asthma symptoms reducing if you go gluten free but start buying bread and crackers and cookies that are gluten free. That said, sometimes you need to make a sandwich to take to the kids’ ball game or maybe you just want one piece of gluten free toast every once in a while, with your eggs in the morning. I personally have never seen a brand of gluten free bread with trans fats in it.
KARA: And I haven't either. But that's not to say that we shouldn't be careful and read ingredients.
CASSIE: Yeah. So it sure doesn't hurt to go to that ingredient list. Do not look at the at the nutrition facts panel because unfortunately a food manufacturer can state zero grams of trans fats and still have some in the ingredient list. So, just go right to the ingredient list and double check any bread that you're buying and the words Kara mentioned earlier in the show that you're looking for are hydrogenated oil of any kind or partially hydrogenated oil of any kind. If you find that in the ingredient list, that food should go right back on the store shelf. But again, I have never seen a brand of gluten free bread with trans fats.
KARA: I'm sort of addicted to reading labels just to make sure. And so, if it were me, I would just take the extra 30 seconds to flip the package over, scan through the ingredients, then you know for sure.
CASSIE: Exactly. Give you some peace of mind. So, on that note, I don't know if this is bragging or not, but I just wanted to say that for the past 20 years at Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we have been warning people about the dangers of trans fats. We've been warning about the fact that it is connected to heart disease. Finally, things have caught up with us and as we talked about earlier, the government is putting a ban on trans fats in this country, but just think about it, think about how many years in the past you maybe were eating margarine. Margarine can cause heart disease, and a lot of the longtime listeners understand the connection with food and asthma. But again, I just want everybody to stop and connect the dots and I find it really interesting to think that biochemically, lung tissue needs saturated fat. Saturated fat, like we find in butter, in full fat milk, and full fat yogurt, in coconut oil, our lung tissue needs that to operate the way that it's meant to. On the other hand, the manmade fats, sometimes we call them factory fats, they are actually harmful to lung tissue. It's sort of like they block the basic function of the lungs, letting the oxygen in and getting the carbon dioxide out.
KARA: Let's go deeper into the topic of asthma and allergies. We know asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood. In fact, over 4 million children had an asthma attack in the past year.
CASSIE: And as I stated at the start of the show, it's getting worse every year. There's more and more asthma. So yeah, going a bit deeper, Kara and I have both read numerous studies that were looking at whether breastfed babies are less prone to getting asthma. And we both agree there are mixed findings. Some of these studies found fewer cases of asthma with breastfed babies and then some studies found no fewer occurrences of asthma, but I want to talk about one big landmark study. This study involved about 250,000 babies and it was done over the course of 30 years and they did find a link between breastfeeding and reduced childhood asthma rates. If you're interested in looking this up, reading more about it, if you're science nerds like Kara and I, this research was from the University of Bern in Switzerland and the researchers reviewed studies examining breastfeeding and the risk of asthma in children from just the general population.
KARA: So again, this study was looking at 250,000 children and the conclusion was that breastfeeding was associated with a 19% less chance of a child getting asthma. The research suggests that breastfeeding protects against development of childhood asthma.
CASSIE: And a 19 percent less chance. I think that that's significant. So, if this research is accurate, the place that my mind goes is, “Okay. Why? Why would breast feeding help to reduce the risk of childhood asthma?” And what I'm thinking is it's probably because breast milk contains a probiotic or a good bacteria called bifidobacteria. And so, wanting to know more, I continued to read some research and I found another study from Finland and this particular study found that giving probiotics like bifidobacteria, for example, in babies or toddlers, delayed or sometimes prevented the onset of asthma. And on the flip side of that, antibiotics given to kids in the first year of life actually increased the risk of developing asthma.
KARA: Oh, I would love to talk more about that. I know we just have about a minute left, so I'm just going to try to kind of sum up what we've talked about so far and we do realize the research on asthma has mixed results, but there are some takeaways that you can use to protect you or your child against asthma symptoms. Try eating vegetables and fruits as your carbohydrates and just reducing those grains. Limit or get rid of processed foods. Instead of the margarines or the spreads, choose saturated fats like butter, coconut oil and palm oil. And you really need to be avoiding all trans fats in fast food, commercial baked goods, pizza, muffins. Always read ingredients. And as a parent, I always have my daughter take bifidobacteria. I actually have her take it every day and I've been doing that since she was an infant. It not only supports digestion and overall immune function, but it can really reduce asthma symptoms.
CASSIE: Absolutely, and as our goal at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is to help each and every person experienced better health through eating real food. Yes, it's a simple message, but it's a powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for tuning in and have a healthy day.