The Link Between Asthma and Dairy


A Plan for Lung Health

Some important things to keep in mind regarding dairy sensitivity and reactive airway disease:

  • Dairy products are not the only sources of dietary calcium. They do have high levels of calcium but it is often not readily bio-available. Almonds, broccoli, and green leafy vegetables are great sources of dietary calcium and do not cause inflammation or thicken mucous.
  • Sensitivities as well as allergies are affected by exposure, not necessarily amount. Imagine being allergic to a bee sting. You don’t need to get involved with the whole hive to be in serious trouble. Same goes for milk. However, the delayed hypersensitivity reaction may not show up for up to 72 hours, so some people are lulled into a false sense of security.
  • Milk can be insidiously included in breads and even meats. If you are strictly avoiding dairy, especially during the first phase of assessment, you should be reading every label every time. Sauces and toppings including salad dressings can include milk. When you are out to eat, let your server know you have a dairy allergy. They may give you a unique menu or let you know which dishes are ok. Also, franchises will often list allergens on their websites. I strongly encourage you to keep your frequently visited establishments’ allergen menus close by when ordering. You will be surprised at where you find dairy when you start looking!
  • Further support lung function in addition to avoiding allergens. Speleotherapy or halotherapy is the inhalation of infinitesimal particles of salt into the bronchial tract to support the micron layer of saline in this tissue that wards off infection and maintains hydration to the sensitive cells in this part of our anatomy. There are now man-made salt rooms and recreation of salt caves to be used therapeutically for lung health, but there are resources now that bring this therapy into your home. Dry salt inhalers such as the Original Himalayan Crystal Salt Inhaler as featured on the Dr. Oz Show have become useful adjuncts for the benefit of RAD-sufferers. With just a few minutes of use per day, the inhalation of dry salt into the bronchial tract as well as focus on healthy breathing can improve quality of life symptoms. Many people are familiary with the use of neti pots commonly used for sinus infection and pain in which saline solution is run into the sinus cavity. Dry salt inhalation is similar to the use of a neti pot but for the bronchial tract. In fact, one study published in 2007 in Pneumologia looked at dry salt inhalation for patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Quality of life was improved as an outcome of use as measured by a walking distance test. This is a nice compliment to conventional, nutritional, and dietary measures.

Asthma and reactive airway disease are often multi-factorial in their cause, but reducing known sources of inflammation including dairy and dairy products may be contributory. A two month trial of therapy (strict compliance) is suggested by most integrative medicine practitioners. Re-evaluation of frequency of attacks and a log of lung-related symptoms accompanies this trial. Use of rescue medications as well as compliance to magnesium and/ or fish oils should be logged as well so that a decision can be made in partnership with your integrative medicine provider. In general, avoiding food sensitivities is an innocuous method of reducing inflammation and restoring health.

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