Good Food a Good Asthma-Management Tool

Vegetables and fruits provide a wide array of antioxidant and other nutrients that might help reduce inflammation, writes Maureen Williams, ND

‘Five a day’ is surely good advice for people wanting to improve their long-term health, but, for people with asthma, the effects of eating lots of fruits and vegetables may be more immediate. A study found that the lungs of people with asthma functioned better when they ate a diet high in vegetables and fruit, compared with people on a diet low in vegetables and fruit after just two weeks. The same study also found that taking an antioxidant supplement for 12 weeks was not as effective as eating a high-antioxidant diet.

Comparing diets and supplements

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, included 137 adults with asthma. They were assigned to one of three groups:

  1. A high-antioxidant-diet group, who ate 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits every day
  2. A low-antioxidant-diet-plus-supplement group, who ate no more than 2 servings of vegetables and 1 serving of fruit per day and took a daily supplement
  3. A low-antioxidant-diet-plus-placebo group, that ate the same diet and took a daily supplement of no nutritional value

After the first two weeks eating their assigned diets, participants added either an antioxidant supplement (a tomato extract providing 45 mg of the antioxidant, lycopene, per day) or placebo for an additional 12 weeks.

Eat your antioxidants for the best effect

Several important differences were found:

  • Breathing tests showed that respiratory function worsened in people on the low-antioxidant diet after two weeks, but was unchanged in people eating the high-antioxidant diet.
  • Asthma symptoms were more likely to increase in people on the low-antioxidant diet than people on the high-antioxidant diet.
  • Levels of CRP (C-reactive protein, an inflammatory chemical in the blood) increased by week 14 in people on the low-antioxidant diet, but not in people on the high-antioxidant diet. (There are health advantages to decreasing inflammation.)
  • Taking the tomato-extract supplement had no impact on the negative effects of being on the low-antioxidant diet.

“We found that a low-antioxidant diet led to a reduction in lung function and an increased risk of asthma exacerbation compared with a high-antioxidant diet,” the study’s authors said. “Whereas antioxidant supplements and dietary manipulation both increased antioxidant concentrations [in the blood], clinical improvements were evident only after the high-antioxidant diet, which suggests that whole food interventions are most effective.”

Eating for better asthma control

Vegetables and fruits provide a wide array of antioxidant and other nutrients that might help reduce inflammation and manage inflammatory conditions like asthma.

In addition to lycopene, here are some of the many antioxidants from vegetables and fruits that might benefit people with asthma:

  • Vitamin C. Vitamin C is important for keeping all kinds of inflammation at bay, and supplements have been found to be helpful in treating asthma, especially exercise-induced asthma.
  • Beta-carotene. In the same family as lycopene, beta-carotene is an antioxidant that gives plants yellow, red, and orange color. People with asthma have been found to have low blood levels of beta-carotene.
  • Quercetin. This flavonoid is found in many fruits and vegetables and might help to control the release of histamine in people with allergies and asthma.
  • Proanthocyanins. This family of plant compounds gives blue, red, and purple color to flowers and fruits. They are strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, and studies have suggested that certain plant extracts that are high in proanthocyanins may aid in asthma management.

(Am J Clin Nutr 2012;96:534–43)

Maureen Williams, ND, completed her doctorate in naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University in Seattle and has been in private practice since 1995. With an abiding commitment to access to care, she has worked in free clinics in the US and Canada, and in rural clinics in Guatemala and Honduras where she has studied traditional herbal medicine. She currently lives and practices in Victoria, BC, and lectures and writes extensively for both professional and community audiences on topics including family nutrition, menopause, anxiety and depression, heart disease, cancer, and easing stress. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.


Do Omega-3 Fats Support Heart Health?

Researchers found that omega-3 fat supplementation was not associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, writes Suzanne Dixon.

A review of existing research and reanalysis of certain studies on omega-3 fats and heart health has resulted in a surprising finding: The review calls into question the long-standing positive association between heart health and fish oil supplementation. The focus of the analysis was omega-3 supplements rather than dietary sources.

Fishing for better health

In this study, heart and vascular health was measured by longevity: death due to any cause (all-cause mortality), cardiac death, or sudden death due to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Researchers pooled results from 20 previous studies of a total 68,680 adults in a statistical method called meta-analysis. All of the studies included in the meta-analysis were clinical trials in which some of the participants were given omega-3 fat supplements and others were given a placebo (containing no omega-3s).

Researchers found that omega-3 fat supplementation was not associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiac death, sudden death, myocardial infarction, or stroke. For all of the conditions other than stroke, the results trended in the direction of fish oil supplements protecting against cardiovascular disease, though these results weren’t statistically significant. For stroke, the result trended in the direction of suggesting more harm than benefit from omege-3 fat supplements, though again, results were not statistically significant.

Putting results in context

Why do omega-3s have a heart-healthy reputation? While the results of the meta-analysis demonstrate that the relationship between fish oil and heart health is more complicated than previously thought, keep in mind that, among other heart-related benefits, fish oil has been shown to reduce high blood pressure and high triglycerides, both considered markers for heart disease risk. And studies have consistently associated fish-rich diets, such as the Mediterranean-style diet, with better cardiovascular health.

It should also be considered that of the 3,635 studies assessed, just 20 made the cut for the meta-analysis. Studies are often eliminated because a study’s design makes it difficult to compare with other studies, but they may still be relevant to the larger question of a supplement’s efficacy. Of the more than 3,600 other studies on omega-3 fat that were not included in the review, many support health benefits of taking omega-3 fat supplements.

Cutting through the confusion

So what’s a health-conscious consumer to do? Before deciding whether or not omega-3 supplements are right for you, ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Why would I want to boost omega-3s? Omega-3s have shown positive effects in other conditions, including hypertension, anxiety, depression, eczema, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Crohn’s disease. If heart disease is your concern, talk to your doctor about all of the things you can do to reduce risk. Omega-3 supplements may have a place in your heart health plan, but exercising and eating right are the more important first-line defences everyone should consider.
  • What are the downsides of supplementing omega-3s? This study found a trend toward increased risk of stroke in people taking omega-3 supplements—because the results were not statistically significant, however, it’s not clear, based on this study, what recommendations should be made.
  • What are the downsides of not getting enough omega-3s? People take omega-3 supplements for a variety of reasons. If you feel omega-3 supplements provide some health benefit, it may be worth it to keep taking them. Ask your doctor if you’re uncertain.
  • Can I get omega-3s from food? In addition to cold-water fish—such as salmon, sardines, halibut, pollock, and cod—plenty of foods contain omega-3 fats, including linseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and other nuts and seeds. Though most of the evidence showing EPA-DHA benefit has been with fish oil, there are other health benefits of including plant sources of omega-3 fats.

(JAMA 2012;Vol 308:1024–33)

Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognised expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.

Beautiful coral-shaped candles

Beeswax Candle
Beeswax candle made entirely from renewable resources

I remember the first time I learnt about beeswax.

It’s amazing how many uses it has…

Lip balm, polish, crayons, sealant, waterproofing and lubricant to name a few.

But the really interesting thing for me is that burning beeswax candles is believed to ionise the air and rid it of pollutants and so it’s useful to people with skin and breathing sensitivities.

Beeswax also burns very slowly and produces a honeyed scent and, of course, it’s a natural substance straight from mother nature.

Candles Naturally make beautiful coral like beeswax candles with attention to environmental sustainability. The coral structure glows like a lantern while the wax burns down inside, leaving the elegant structure of the shell behind.

True to their environmental instincts they only harvest the wax after the bees have left the hive so that no bees are harmed in the process.

The company makes a lot more besides beeswax candles too, including Coconut Shell Candle with essential oils made from sustainable soy oil, which burns for approximately 40 hours!

It’s getting easier to buy unpasteurised milk

Unpasteurized milk is lauded by its supporters for its superior quality.

It is argued that raw milk has more vitamins, beneficial enzymes and ‘friendly’ bacteria. 25% of milk’s vitamin C is said to be lost through pasteurisation.

fresh milkIt is also believed to be easier to digest and, apparently, studies show it can reduce allergies such as asthma and hayfever. Some even believe the saturated fat found in the cream is good for you.

But surely the best arguement is that it tastes better? When pasteurised milk is heat treated it loses its flavour.

Now, while it is still difficult to get hold of unpasteurised cow’s milk, it is possible to get raw, active, unpasteurized goat’s milk – just like real milk should be!

You can try a brand known as Chuckling Goat. The taste is mild and sweet, and not ‘goaty’ at all.

There was a time when unpasteurised milk was understandably risky, because of bacterial infection, but hygienic methods have substantially improved since the days of Louis Pasteur.

Chuckling Goat are licensed to sell raw goats milk; both the goats and their milk are regularly and rigorously tested to ensure stringent standards of safety and purity.

For more information on raw milk visit

Hayfever season will last an extra month. Stay protected.

The chaotic weather means that high levels of pollen will continue well into August.

While rain normally suppresses pollen, it helps the flowers grow and store up even more pollen which is released during the warm sunny spells. Any wind just makes the situation worse.

It’s led to a high number of calls to NHS Direct from hayfever sufferers, which isn’t surprising as pollen counts have climbed to double the amount seen in the last couple of years.

If you’d like to increase your protection I’d highly recommend Haymax which is made from beeswax and can be used to stop pollen getting up your nose and irritating your eyes.

People are experiencing eye problems, sneezing and runny noses, and then there’s the more serious issue of asthma attacks too. Hayfever can make some people’s lives intolerable.


Free tickets to The Allergy and Free From Show: 18-20 May 2012

Got an allergy? Is your diet Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Casein Free, Lactose Free, Wheat Free, Yeast Free?

The Allergy & Free From Show 2012 has teamed up with GoodnessDirect to give you unlimited FREE tickets (worth £10 each)!

Taking place from 18 – 20 May at London’s Olympia, this is Europe’s largest public event dedicated to delivering solutions for free from lives. If you suffer from asthma, eczema, sensitive skin, hay fever, chemical sensitivities, food intolerance, coeliac disease or other allergies or intolerances then this is for you.

Last year’s event was an enormous success…

This year there are more free from features and exhibitors than ever before:

  • Try and buy the latest free from foods, skincare and household products
  • Consultations, seminars and workshops with the UK’s top Allergists, Dieticians and other specialists
  • Free from cooking demonstrations
  • Charities, support groups and thousands of like-minded attendees

And a host of additional exciting content!

Come and see us there (Stand 135) for free…

Book unlimited free tickets for you, your friends, family and colleagues at

Did you know elderberry juice was so powerful?

Who knew that elderberry juice had so many benefits?

Not only does it contain vitamins A, C and B, it also feeds you a healthy dose of antioxidants.

This seems to have a good effect on the immune system as Elderberry Juice is renowned for its ability to treat illnesses like the flu, common colds, sore throats and other infections.

Its ability to reduce mucus also seems to help with asthma, coughs and bronchitis.

pure elderberry juice
Finally, a pure organic elderberry juice

What is more elderberry juice is also documented as helpful for treating serious diseases like AIDS and diabetes. It helps lower cholesterol levels and maintains a healthy digestive system. It has anti-viral, anti-histamine properties and is thought to deal with many other ailments from yeast infections to skin problems.

I’m wary of listing illnesses as if one herbal remedy could be a cure-all, but the information available about elderberry juice is pretty impressive.

If you are interested Biona have produced a pure organic elderberry juice. While you can find elderberry syrup, this currently seems to be the only completely pure elderberry juice widely available on the UK market.