Food Intolerance: You Are What You Eat
Many asthmatics can include food allergies and intolerances to the triggers that cause wheezing or an attack. They can range from an allergy that provokes an episode, to a mere food intolerance that results in milder, albeit uncomfortable symptoms. An allergy that generates a more violent reaction, may by better categorised as anaphylactic shock. An allergen is considered as harmful by the body and leads to the production of histamine and other chemicals. While a food intolerance simply means that the body finds it difficult to digest food. Usually a food intolerance is a condition that can be more easily tolerated and managed.
Uncomfortable side affects after eating maybe as a result of a food intolerance. They can reveal themselves as bloating, eczema, digestive problems and other annoying reactions. However, while most of these are to be endured, they could be having a detrimental effect on our asthma.
Don't ignore your symptoms
If you ignore your intolerance you could experience problems with heartburn and acid reflux. This can be painful and induces our brain to send signals to the lungs to produce more mucus. Additional mucus means a narrowing of the airways and so, a reduction in lung capacity. If this condition persists you may experience GERD as a result of stomach acid being 'leaked' into the lungs as we breathe. This happens when esophageal sphincter at the end of the esophagus becomes weakened, causing stomach acid to be aspirated. Again, this can lead to the lungs becoming irritated, that can result in wheezing.
There is some evidence that asthmatics suffer more with heartburn or acid reflux. This is because certain asthma medication causes the relaxation of the muscles, of which esophageal sphincter is one. Acid reflux relief drugs can help and, in turn can calm asthma attacks caused by stomach acid aggravating the lungs.
The Importance of Listening to our bodies.
Before deciding to pop another antacid, we could consider a more drastic approach and veto the food that causes the problem. This may result in improving our asthma as well as our overall health. There is now a much wider choice of food available, from which viable alternatives might be chosen. Making it possible for prohibited foods to be substituted with others that are kinder on our digestive systems.
However, sometimes it’s not just one element that causes an undesired reaction, but a number of different items. It may mean checking labels for unexpected ingredients, just so that our favourite brands don't catch us unaware. But what can you do if you can’t either identify the culprit, or have had a reaction that you haven’t had before? A food diary will help you to monitor your symptoms and can be the easiest way to discover an intolerance. Once you suspect a food, you could try to omit it for two to six weeks and reassess its effect when reintroduced.
There are tests that claim to detect an intolerance, but this is unlikely, as an intolerance doesn't affect our immune system. When the body’s immune system detects an allergen, it assumes it to be alien and dangerous to health. Hence, antibodies are produced and it is these antibodies that cause an allergic reaction. The spike in antibodies is detected by a blood test. While it is the allergic reaction is what can be seen in ‘skin prick’ test. An intolerance can only be identified through monitoring symptoms and their effects. It is feasible that our bodies will be able to tolerate a certain amount of food that aggravates us. Although it may prove difficult to find that level.
If your intolerance is caused by a branded food then a substitute may be found from another producer. Finding an alternative can be hard, so you could contact your preferred brand to ask for their advice regarding substitutes. However, eliminating these foods may only have to be temporary measure, and taboo foods could again be back on the menu. As our bodies change, it is quite conceivable that the element that once aggravated us, may not continue to do so.
Tolerating the intolerable
The only way to be sure that you no longer get the side effects, is to reintroduce the guilty goods and risk the symptoms. You could find that, because your mental relationship with that food has changed, the desire to consume it just isn't there. Merely thinking about a substance that caused an undesirable reaction, can provoke anxiety. This anxiety can in itself, cause digestive distress; not a great start when trying to broaden your dietary horizons.
If you consider that there is a health benefit in reintroducing an illicit food, then do so slowly. Listen to your body, be aware of any symptoms and look out for the affects you once suffered. Should you still be unable to consume without ill effects, then it may be wise to seek more permanent alternatives. However, when it comes to allergies, then the process of possible reintroduction is very different. If you suspect that you are no longer allergic to a food please seek medical advice.
Have you experienced a collapsed lung?