Air and Breathing
Food Allergy Causes Asthma
Asthma is one of the 3 manifestations of a pattern of allergy, called atopy. The associated disorders are eczema and hay fever. Food allergy can cause both immediate and delayed patterns of asthma. Immediate food reactions can cause sudden, dramatic and life-threatening asthma is one of the consequences of anaphylactic reactions to food. Delayed patterns of food allergy can cause chronic asthma and/or bronchitis and are among the most neglected causes of chronic or "intrinsic" asthma. Diet revision can resolve chronic asthma.
Type 1 Allergy Often patients have positive skin tests to inhalant allergens which cause hay fever and may have skin reactions to foods which prove to be a problem. Foods that produce significant positive skin tests should be avoided in the diet; however, other foods that do not show skin reactions may contribute to the disease. If all the attention is directed toward the more obvious skin-positive inhalant allergies, an opportunity to benefit from comprehensive diet revision is lost.
Patients with delayed pattern food allergy have the most persistent inflammatory form of chronic asthma. Skin tests do not show delayed patterns of food allergy and diet revision must be complete and comprehensive to resolve this common form or allergic asthma.
Here are the basic ideas about asthma causes and treatment:
The three basic treatment choices are:
Many studies of food allergy involve patients with food-induced asthma; the asthma is easily recognized if symptoms begin within a few hours of eating food and the asthma is associated with other symptoms of food allergy. Eczema and asthma are often associated in atopic patients with food allergy. James et al reported that in a group of 320 children with atopic dermatitis, 55% had asthma. Food challenges triggered respiratory symptoms in 59% of including rhinitis, laryngeal edema, wheezing, and dyspnea. Gastrointestinal symptoms occurred in 41% of positive challenges. Often, asthma is treated only as an airborne allergy problem or as a problem unrelated to allergic processes and the possible role of food allergy is neglected!
Wraith stated: "Food allergy is a very important cause of asthma but is often overlooked. It is important because it may cause severe symptoms and asthma still has a high mortality despite improvements in drug therapy. It is overlooked because the usual skin tests are often negative and the history is often not helpful as symptoms appear gradually hours or days after ingestion of the food."
IgE and Non-IgE mechanisms can cause asthma. Patients with no positive skin tests were shown to react to foods. In Wraith's studies, milk, wheat, egg, yeast, preservatives, colorings, coffee and cheese were the main foods implicated. Other manifestations of food allergy are typical in 65% of the asthmatic patients.
Diet revision with elimination of foods or a "low allergen" diet were used to induce remission of symptoms then foods were re-introduced to determine reactivity. Pelikan and Pelikan-Filipek demonstrated asthmatic responses to food ingestion and suggested: "The role of food allergy in patients with bronchial complaints is still underestimated by clinicians because:(1) of the dearth of information in this area(2) The involvement of foods in patients with allergic disorders is complex and has various forms..(3) The diagnostic procedures and confirmation of adverse reactions to foods is difficult"
In a study of mechanisms increasing circulating immune complexes (IgE and IgG) were demonstrated following challenges with allergenic foods (egg) and correlated with symptoms. Complexes peaked at 24 hours after food ingestion "and the appearance of symptoms is very close, in others...was followed only later by symptoms. 12 of the 14 subjects studied had asthma; associated problems were eczema, rhinitis, arthralgia, urticaria, and diarrhea. In a review of 320 children and young adults with atopic dermatitis 55% had asthma. With food challenges respiratory symptoms occurred in 236 (42%) including nasal symptoms, dyspnea, wheezing, and laryngeal edema. Hendrick and Bird considered the possibility that food allergy could cause inflammatory alveolitis. The Heiner syndrome serves as a model of milk-protein induced pneumonitis associated with hemosiderosis. They suggested a Type III mechanism and reviewed the alveolitis in celiac disease.
Chronic coughs = allergic bronchitis & asthma.
Food allergy patients are often given antibiotics repeatedly, since allergic symptoms and infection symptoms are similar. Antibiotics may offer no benefits and may increase the risk of further allergic reactions. Many patients report long-term deterioration after repeated or prolonged antibiotic use. This apparent adverse effect of antibiotics has been blamed on yeast overgrowth in GIT, but the real reason is probably more complex.
Food allergens travel from the digestive tract to the lungs. Food allergens may be found in the blood stream in circulating immune complexes that trigger the release of immune mediators in the bloodstream. These chemicals cause a variety of symptoms, including constriction of the bronchial smooth muscle in the lungs; this is the first event of an asthmatic attack. Airflow is reduced in the narrowed tubes. Air has a harder time leaving the lungs than entering-the result is prolonged noisy expiration. If you listen with a stethoscope, you will hear scattered whistles from the narrowed bronchi on breathing out. Later, the small tubes in the lung swell and plug with increased mucus secretion, making the obstruction to airflow worse. This inflammatory, obstructive phase is the most important mechanism of chronic asthmatic bronchitis.
The good news is that complete diet revision may allow remission of chronic symptoms. Asthma that seems to originate inside the body (intrinsic asthma) should be treated as food allergy until proven otherwise. This assumption should lead to careful diet revision, using the Alpha Nutrition Program .
Our patients usually have asthma with associated symptoms that suggest a whole-body food allergy problem. A comprehensive management plan will include solving the food allergy problem, solving airborne allergy and toxicity, and providing the right medication, at the right doses and at the right time when preventive efforts fail.
A food holiday on Alpha ENF for up to 10 days may be beneficial. Patients following Alpha Nutrition experience a reduction or clearing of asthma symptoms, but they are vulnerable to acute attacks if they eat the wrong food. The attacks occur in a sequence, usually beginning with nose and throat congestion, coughing and/or wheezing, followed several hours later by a delayed, more serious episode of breathing difficulty. We recommend retreating to Phase 1 foods or Alpha ENF for several days if the asthma attack is severe.
A 41 year old business woman presented with a long history of a slowly progressive illness. Asthma was a major problem, requiring three asthma medications, Beclovent and Ventolin inhalers and theophylline tablets. Her digestive symptoms were severe, with daily abdominal distention, belching, heartburn, and episodes of acute abdominal pain with diarrhea. All GIT investigations were negative. She was always tired and sometimes depressed. She had withdrawn from all social and recreational activities in the past 2 years but continued to work. Occasionally, she would experience unprovoked panic attacks with fast irregular heart action, flushing, sweating, and tremor. These attacks were so distressing that she avoided driving and going out alone, fearing a disabling attack. Her diet included moderate intake of bread, muffins, pasta, occasional eggs, some yogurt and cheese (but no milk), poultry, beef, salads (but few cooked vegetables), and fruit, mostly citrus. She drank coffee (2 cups) and occasionally tea or hot chocolate but avoided alcoholic beverages, knowing they made her feel sick. She chose to clear on an ENF, and by day 5 was beginning to improve. She continued to complete recovery within 6 weeks on Alpha Nutrition. She experienced several food reactions during Phases 2 and 3, but accurately identified the problems, and emerged well. She found that rice caused persisting fatigue and had to omit it. Most fruits were better tolerated cooked. Her panic attacks did not recur and her asthma was 80% cleared with food control; 20% remained an airborne problem. Her prescription drug use dropped dramatically.
If asthma is chronic and tends to occur in all seasons and is not related to airborne exposure, then consider delayed pattern food allergy as the cause and do complete diet revision.