I have always been someone that has suffered with asthma from a young age. I was also very active playing three sports my entire life so I’m sure you can see the issue. I struggled finding ways to control my asthma besides basic medications I was give to take daily. I also got to a point where I had to keep a machine at home to do breathing treatments when needed. All of these asthmatic problems in my life kept pushing me to find ways to prevent asthma attacks. One track season my coach told me that I should try eating gluten free meals. This sounded absolutely insane to me and until I did further research I did not completely understand what he was talking about.
Gluten contains contents that can cause inflammation in the lungs. Even though inflammation is good in some parts of the body when an injury occurs, it is not good when inflammation is happening in areas of the body like the lungs. This link shows some facts about gluten that could be beneficial in better understanding what I am discussing throughout the blog. (LINK)
I researched for myself to even see how to find out if the body was gluten sensitive and saw that a double-blind, randomized, controlled, placebo trial was necessary to find out if the body reacted to the gluten food compared to the non-gluten food in the first place. If the body reacts to the gluten then someone is gluten sensitive. It is as simple as that.
After I researched some facts I decided that since I was not sold on the fact that my body was gluten sensitive, but gluten did indeed cause some inflammation, that I would give the gluten-free diet a try. To my amazement, during that track season, I ran better than I ever had. I was convinced that the gluten free diet was helping my asthma.
However, when I looked further into my season I realized that I needed to consider the third variable relations in my situation. For example: this was the only track season that I ran indoor track beforehand so I could have been more prepared and in better shape coming into the season than before. Also, along with eating gluten free, I was eating a lot healthier and drinking a lot more water than usual. Not only that, but the weather that year was warmer than usual which made me believe that running in cold weather was worse for my asthma than running in warm weather. All of these variables could have contributed to my asthma not flaring up as much that season. However, to a logical person trying to control their asthma, cutting out some gluten in the diet does not hurt.
I must warn though that going completely gluten free without actually having a gluten allergy can create some risks such as:
- Undermining the ability to detect celiac disease
- Potentially harming the immune functions
- Increased risk of some deadly diseases that gluten helps prevent (LINK)
I never found any thorough studies on whether or not a gluten-free diet helps asthmatics, but there is some research done showing that gluten and asthma do correlate sometimes depending on the severity of the disease. However, we did learn in this class that correlation does not always equal causation.
After thinking about this topic I also came up with some questions dealing with my asthma that maybe some of you were wondering too:
- Why do asthma attacks happen in the middle of the night sometimes?
- Does the seasons changing have an effect on asthmatics, because I have asthma flare ups in the fall?
- Should everyone be tested for a gluten allergy if it potentially could have such a positive or negative effect on our immune system?
- Do you have to be gluten free for a certain amount of time to truly see results?
Hopefully, some of you that read this find this interesting and correlating to gluten issues that you may have yourself. Maybe one of the questions previously listed strikes your mind as more fascinating instead.