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Asthma is a big problem and seems to affect more people in the western world. As with autism spectrum disorders, asthma is not an issue in communities where diet and lifestyle has changed little!

It is worth considering changes that have occurred over the decades such as increasing environmental toxins and pollution, increases in food sensitivities and gut problems, widespread inclusion of food additives and dyes, increasing use of antibiotics and medications, and increasing consumption of industrialised foods man-made to taste just how your brain wants it. All these things can trigger asthma.

I am not ruling out genetics as a cause as this was an issue for me as a child, but diet and lifestyle influence severity and the risk of asthma dominating your health and your opportunities to perform and enjoy all activities and to overcome it.

Finding the root cause is essential rather than accepting a conventional treatment focused only on suppressing symptoms. Medications are very important especially in early years to give the immune system a better chance of maturing, but often triggers and other symptoms of ill-health coincide to make problems worse. The job of your immune system is to work towards homeostasis and keep the body well, but allergy, gastro-intestinal issues, poor detoxing, food intolerances, stress, fatigue and poor sleep are all potential triggers for asthma and other chronic diseases, irritating your immune system and holding you back.

In my case, I found out that I had a sensitivity for wheat and sulpher dioxide used as a preservative in dried fruit and other foods. I loved dried apricots and dried bananas and ate them every day along with a vegemite sandwich. After removing these foods as a young adult, continuing to take a cod liver oil tablet and vitamin C, I was off all asthma medications and asthma free. I went on to run long distance and still run in the many local races in Dubai. In addition, I try to include probiotic foods in my diet daily to boost overall immunity. This can be a good probiotic yoghurt, pickled cabbage or a supplement. Zinc is a great healer and I try to add some red meat weekly.

There is a lot of emerging research on the incidence of increasing issues with feeding and immunity of new borns due to increased C-section rates. Babies who skip the birth canal experience, do not get the bacteria from the mother’s vagina in their intestinal tract. This prevents them from developing normal, healthy gut flora, which is important to a healthy immune system. Breastfeeding also boosts immune development.

Adding the right foods at the right age is intended to keep up with babies maturing immune system. Giving dairy or gluten, hence baby rice is a first food, can trigger an immune reaction in an immature immune system. I see one year olds who have already had a history of habitual antibiotic treatment for sore throats or ear infections, which also create disturbances in the gut flora. All these things, over time, have the tendency to trigger more allergies, more inflammation, and more problems.

My approach is to look for causes. It might be that removing some foods and getting back to basics is a good starting point along with a baby probiotic to improve the bacteria in the gut. This is a very simple intervention, very low risk, and very powerful.

If you suspect that bowel movements are not normal, such as explosive, very smelly, fizzy, a bit leaky when wind is passed, crampy and colicy, this is a very good area to target and it might require some pharmaceutical medication for increased yeast. Again probiotics are a good start. Look for other causes (food additives, pesticides such a cockroach baits and insect sprays, mold circulating in the AC, food chemicals and dyes, pollution in your environment if you are on a main road or near an industrial chimney).

The foods for really boosting liver detoxification which even children can suffer, are broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions and garlic. Other good foods for boosting good fats and creating tight cell walls are avocados, carrots, fish oils, coconut and butter. These foods can be used as everyday mashed vegetables after 6 months of age and as required, soft cooked meat can be blended into the mix. Making a small pot of this up and freezing in ice cube trays means a home cooked meal is always available for baby with no added preservatives, man-made fats or industrialised foods to start the addiction many acquire as children. A small piece of fruit rich in vitamin C helps with iron absorption so go ahead and serve a piece of kiwi, orange or berries to finish of the meal.