January 24, 2017

A Surprising Connection: Food and Asthma

by Amanda Box, N.D.

Nearly everyone has been in this situation. You’re crunched for time and your kids are starving, so you pull into the nearest drive-thru. As you hand those “Happy Meals” to your kids, you sigh in relief as they slurp their sodas and stuff French fries into their mouth. You know it isn’t the healthiest meal, but at least they’re fed. Right?

What if I told you that every time you gave your children fast food you were increasing their risk of acquiring asthma? Click to Tweet.

Would you still do it? Most people equate unhealthy fast food with obesity. However, the toxin-filled processed ingredients found in fast food cause far more than just weight gain. A recent study showed that just three fast food meals a week increased the risk of asthma in teens by 39% and younger children by 27%!

Even though adults weren’t tested in the study, I would assume that fast food also increases asthma risk in adults. Fast food is full of chemicals, artificial ingredients, and allergy-inducing substances that compromise the immune system. What you breathe into your lungs may seem to be the obvious contributor to asthma and its dreaded attacks. However, the food you put into your mouth can truly be your ally or your enemy. The choice is up to you.

Immunity and Asthma

foods with asthma healing propertiesHealthy immunity is essential in the prevention of all diseases, including asthma. One of the easiest and most efficient ways to maintain a strong immune system is through healthy eating. Research demonstrates that the link between food and asthma couldn’t be clearer.

Truly, the foods that you put into your body directly impact your health and the severity of your asthma symptoms! Click to Tweet.

Eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits is extremely important. The antioxidants and vitamins contained in fruits and veggies help to lower inflammation, boost the immune system, and rejuvenate lung tissue. Studies have even shown that children who eat fruits and vegetables regularly have a decreased risk of asthma!

Increasing the amounts of fruits and vegetables will help protect against asthma. But there are certain foods that contain “anti-asthma” properties. They are well-suited for preventing and alleviating symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness in asthma sufferers. Enjoy these common foods with wonderful asthma healing properties.


Avocados contain high levels of the powerful antioxidant glutathione. Glutathione is often referred to as the “master antioxidant”. Its distinguishing quality is that it is the only antioxidant that resides inside the human cell. Glutathione’s job is to act as a security guard and protect each cell. It also roams the body neutralizing free radicals to lower inflammation. Reducing inflammation is crucial for preventing and reducing asthma symptoms.

I prefer to eat my avocados with a little salt, a sprinkle of herbs, and a dash of balsamic vinegar. However, avocados can be made into everything from guacamole to chocolate pudding!


This pungent spice is packed full of medicinal attributes. Garlic is:

  • Anti-viral
  • Anti-fungal
  • And antibacterial

This makes garlic highly beneficial for preventing lung infections like pneumonia. Click to Tweet.

It also contains mucus-thinning properties, which alleviate congestion from the lungs. But, that’s not all! Garlic is also anti-inflammatory, helping to extinguish swelling in the bronchial airways. Garlic truly has a trifecta effect against asthma! Garlic can be added to nearly every dish, from veggies to main course meats!


Spinach is high in magnesium, a mineral that has a profound effect on asthma. Magnesium is essential for the relaxation of lung tissue. Its relaxation properties help prevent the severity and frequency of asthma attacks by minimizing the constriction of airways.

Researchers think that magnesium works by calming asthma’s characteristic spasms in the smooth muscles of the upper respiratory tract and it also appears to have a mild antihistamine effect.

Magnesium has become so favorable in the treatment of asthma that it is often prescribed in the form of a pill, intravenous therapy, or nebulized for immediate contact with the lungs.

Improve your asthma symptoms with spinach! Also, spinach is high in B vitamins and may help reduce stress-related asthma attacks. Spinach is great in salads and soups and can also be added to smoothies.


Pumpkin contains high levels of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which is an essential vitamin for the respiratory system. Vitamin A lowers inflammation in the lung tissue and prevents respiratory infections.

Pumpkins are one of the foods least likely to cause allergic reactions, which is great news if your asthma is linked to allergies. Try pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, or the recipe below for ginger pumpkin cookies for your fall pumpkin fix and beta-carotene boost! Also, indulge in some pumpkin seeds for another magnesium rich food!


Ginger is a very powerful spice in combating asthma symptoms. It contains all-natural, anti-inflammatory properties that mimic NSAIDS in the body. Ginger also enhances bronchodilation, or opening restricted airways. Furthermore, ginger heightens the effects of bronchodilator medications in certain studies.

Its ability to inhibit airway constriction and reduce airway inflammation makes it a perfect remedy for asthma sufferers. Ginger is a great addition to curries and baked goods. Try the recipe below for gingersnap pumpkin cookies!

Low-Mucus Foods

Controlling mucus levels is a crucial part of preventing asthma attacks. People with asthma should avoid milk and other dairy products because they promote mucus production in the lungs, which trigger asthma attacks.

Dairy alternatives are more popular than ever before. There are many fabulous milk alternatives on the market today. Coconut milk, almond milk, and hemp milk are just a few of the hundreds of dairy-free alternatives. I have personally tasted dairy-free cheeses, whipped cream, coffee creamer, and yogurt and have found them all to be delicious and comparable to the dairy-based originals. These products are easily found at your local natural grocery or health food store.

Drinking enough water is also essential in thinning mucus secretions. One theory is the lack of water causes the airways to constrict. Another researcher believes dehydration causes mucus to thicken, which can lead to asthma attacks.

Interestingly enough, folk remedies for asthma and allergies bear out the water theory as well. Home cures include drinking hot water and inhaling steam from a bowl or kettle to get quick relief.

Drinking around eight cups of water a day should provide enough hydration to keep mucus secretions thin and lubricated.

Asthma Prevention Recipes

I love it when the weather allows me to incorporate warm and nourishing soups back into our meal plans. Cream-based soups are some of my favorite, but with the cream comes dairy…and therefore mucus! Luckily, adding coconut milk can add the same creaminess without the mucus-producing dairy! This recipe for creamy ham and sweet potato soup is a great dairy-free cream soup alternative!

Creamy Ham and Sweet Potato Soup


  • Creamy-Ham-and-Sweet-Potato-Soup1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cups chopped, cooked ham
  • 1 giant sweet potato or 2-3 medium sweet potatoes (4-5 cups chopped into 1/2″ cubes)
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can coconut milk


  1. Combine onion, celery, ham, sweet potatoes, chicken stock, water, salt & pepper in a large pot.
  2. Bring to a boil and turn down heat to low or medium/low to keep soup at a low simmer. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
  3. Add the coconut milk to the soup (after the sweet potatoes are tender) and stir until well incorporated.

This recipe for gingerbread snaps with pumpkin butter incorporates the asthma reducing power of both pumpkin and ginger. Not to mention that these cookies are absolutely delicious! An added bonus is that these cookies are also gluten and dairy-free!

Gingerbread Snap Pumpkin Butter Cookies

Gingerbread snap pumpkin butter cookiesCookie ingredients:

  • 2½ cups almond flour, plus more for the work surface
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 4 tablespoons coconut sugar or sucanat
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, whisked

Pumpkin butter ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw pecans
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips (for the topping)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together to evenly distribute the ingredients. Add the coconut oil, sugar, vanilla, and eggs and beat or mix until dough has formed.
  3. Dust work surface with almond flour and lay the dough out, pressing it down until it is about ½ inch thick.
  4. Using a cookie cutter or lid from a spice jar or small Mason jar, cut the dough into circles. This should create around 40 small cookies.
  5. Place about 20 of the cookies on the prepared baking sheet, about ½ inch apart and bake for 5 minutes. Immediately remove the cookies and place on a rack to cool. Repeat with another batch of 20 cookies.
  6. While the cookies cool, make the pumpkin butter. Place the pecans in a food processor and puree until smooth. Then add pumpkin puree and maple syrup and puree until well combined.
  7. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat.
  8. Assemble the sandwiches: Spread about 1 tablespoon of the pumpkin butter onto a cookie and top it off with another cookie. Then use a spoon to drizzle a bit of chocolate over each cookie sandwich. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. These will keep for about 3 to 4 days.

Making a conscious effort to eat a healthy and nourishing diet greatly reduces your asthma symptoms. Incorporating asthma reducing foods, avoiding dairy products, and staying hydrated are lifestyle choices that can change your asthma for the better. Make a commitment to yourself and to your kids to no longer hit up the drive-thru for fast food. What you eat can make all difference in the severity and frequency of your asthma symptoms.

If you suffer from asthma, then you can feel better in just one week by cutting out dairy.  What else has saved your life from asthma?


If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:


Amanda Box, N.D.Amanda Box is a Traditional Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.





Healing Foods & Liquids to Fight the Flu

Natural Food Options You Can Use To Ward Off Sickness

flu season immunity by flickr andrewrennieStaying healthy during countless doctor visits or hiding the cold and flu season from the rest of the world, there can be a daunting task,  even for the healthiest of people. Throw in chronic disease, sedentary lifestyles, a lack of essential nutrients, and a compromised immune system; you could be looking at a long winter. However, you do not have to resort to flu shots, you can use to ward off sickness.

Chicken Soup

If you have a grandmother, mother or concerned parent, you will know when you say, “I feel sick,” they serve up chicken soup for you. Interestingly enough, scientific evidence today supports what they used to say. The steam produced by hot chicken soup helps clear clogged airways, and the nourishing broth will give you more energy. An amino acid released from chicken during cooking chemically resembles the drug acetylcysteine, prescribed for bronchitis and other respiratory problems.

Spices that are often added to chicken soup, such as garlic and pepper (all ancient treatments for respiratory diseases), work the same way as modern cough medicines, thinning mucus to make breathing easier.

Hot and spicy food

Some people swear by hot and spicy foods such as garlic, onions, mustard, horseradish, chilies or spicy sauces to help ease congestion. This is because food spicy enough to make your eyes watery will have the same effect on your nose and promote drainage. If you feel like eating, a hot and spicy choice will help your body fight your cold.


This fragrant bulb contains a flavoring agent called alliin, which acts as a decongestant and a broad-spectrum antibiotic with powerful antibacterial properties. Garlic is also believed to act as an antioxidant and destroy free radicals, the active oxygen molecules that damage cells.


Stay hydrated with plenty of liquids. Hot beverages work better for some people, so consider chamomile or peppermint herbal tea, or sip on hot water with a slice of lemon. Drinking plenty of fluids will also help your body recover faster and fight off the virus better.

Foods High in Vitamin C

Foods high in vitamin C such as citrus fruits to increase your vitamin C intake. Drink orange juice for breakfast, snack on half a grapefruit, or add tanger-ine slices to a lunchtime salad. Potatoes, green peppers, strawberries and pineapple can also be added to your daily cold-fighting food arsenal.


Many people find fresh ginger root helps treat the coughing and fever that often accompany colds and flu. For many people, ginger (such as in ginger tea) works to boost the immune system during the cold and flu season. Ginger tea is safe, easy to prepare, and good to have on hand all winter long and can help ease throat pain and upset stomach.

What to Avoid

Avoid milk and other dairy products. At least one study has shown that a compound in milk triggers the release of histamine, a chemical that contributes to runny nose and nasal congestion, which can make chest, sinus, and nasal congestion worse.

Chicken soup for the flu by flickr satakieliGrandma’s Flu Busting Chicken Soup


  • 3 chicken breasts (skin on and bone in, about 2 pounds)
  • 2 stalks celery, cut in half
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 cups baby carrots, divided
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 1/2 pounds red or purple potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about 2 cups)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Put chicken, celery, 2 garlic cloves, 1 cup carrots, the oregano sprig, and half the onion into a large pot. Fill pot with cold water 2 inches above ingredients; put over high heat. When water boils, cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer 1 hour.

2. Set aside chicken to cool and discard all vegetables and herbs. Strain broth into a large bowl, skim fat from top and set aside.

3. Put oil, jalapeno, chopped oregano, 2 remaining garlic cloves (minced) and remaining half onion (chopped) into a large pot. Cook at medium heat until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Turn heat to high; add reserved broth, potatoes and remaining carrots. When broth boils, reduce heat to medium. Cook until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.

4. Remove skin and bones from chicken. Shred meat into bite size pieces. Add chicken, tomatoes, salt and pepper to soup. Cook until warm or hot (if you prefer).

Don’t want to make your own? Here are the top canned performers in order of effectiveness:

  1. Knorr’s Chicken Flavor Chicken Noodle
  2. Campbell’s Home Cookin’ Chicken Vegetable
  3. Campbell’s Healthy Request Chicken Noodle
  4. Lipton Cup O Soup, Chicken Noodle
  5. Progresso Chicken Noodle
  6. Health Valley 100% Natural Chicken Broth

Tea for flu by Grandma Flickr ~jjjohn~Grandma’s Teas for the Cold and Flu


  • 2 cups water
  • Head of garlic
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 sprigs baby dill
  • 1 bag black tea
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Honey


  1. Boil the water, and lower to a simmer.
  2. Peel and crush the garlic & ginger root, and add to water.
  3. Add cayenne, baby dill, tea and lemon juice, and turn off flame.
  4. Allow to steep for 5 minutes and then take out all the leaf particles floating in the tea.

Basically any tea will work well, just make sure that you use heat, spice, and citrus.

The flu season has been around for as long as you and I can remember. Traditional methods of healing treatment have included fruit juices and water by the quarts, comfort foods, hot blankets, hot baths, cold compresses for headaches, additional fiber and other colon-cleansing remedies.

Stock up on these items and you’ll build flu immunity:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Chicken Soup
  • Hot Herbal Teas
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Garlic and Ginger
  • Hand Soap and Sanitizer

Furthermore, stay clear from germs but stay far from fear. The scare of a flu pandemic helps further drug sales – not peace of mind. To quote Nordine Zoureg, former Mr. Universe, “… I understood that no matter how bad your day or life may be unfolding, the illusion of your perception can be eradicated by a simple stare into the eyes of a loved one, a person or a pet or even your own self.” Remember what counts in life and you’ll not only keep yourself healthy, but you’ll feel better, too.


Grandma's Cure Corner

Grandma Barton is mother to Joe Barton (founder of Barton Publishing), grandmother to 6 grandkids and 28 step-grandkids, and over 3000 Home Cures That Work members. She is a two-time breast cancer survivor with the help of Dr. Saunders and natural remedies. Grandma loves finding cures within the home to treat all sorts of ailments. With tips she’s learned on the farm and along the way, Grandma Barton brings a time-tested and trusted voice when it comes to home remedies. She really is an inspiration to us all


No-Nonsense Guide To A Naturally Healthy Pregnancy

I remember my first pregnancy like it was yesterday.  I stared down in disbelief at the plus (+) sign on my pregnancy test. A terrifying sound of happiness mixed with pure unadulterated fear began to pour out of my mouth.  My husband, having never heard me make such a noise, rushed into the bathroom. “I’m pregnant!” I exclaimed.

Once the shock wore off, the anticipation began.  I shared the news with my co-workers from the local health food store.  I was absolutely bombarded with questions.

  • Are you going to vaccinate?
  • You’re going to breastfeed, right?
  • Are you having a home birth?
  • What prenatal are you going to take?
  • Are you going to wait to cut the cord?

All these questions caused me to feel overwhelmed, to say the least.  I knew I had a lot of research to do. I was about to pioneer natural pregnancy and childbirth amongst my friends who had not yet had a baby.  I had made a choice that I would be doing this the most natural, healthy, non-invasive way possible.  In this article, I hope to cover what I feel are some of the most important natural approaches during pregnancy, birth and beyond.

The Foundational 3

The most common question I get from pregnant women is, “What supplements should I take during pregnancy?”  There are 3 things I believe are extremely beneficial for pregnant mothers to take throughout their pregnancy and even while nursing after the baby is born.  They are safe and important in the overall health of mommy and baby.

1.  A Quality Prenatal

I have taken several brands and forms of prenatal vitamins.  It has become my belief that a whole food prenatal is the best form you can take.  The price point is typically higher than your run of the mill prenatal, but in this case, I believe you definitely get what you pay for.

The biggest complaint you run into with prenatals is nausea.  Companies like New Chapter, Megafood, and Garden of Life have pretty much solved this problem.  Their prenatals are so gentle that you can take them on an empty stomach!  This is especially important during the first trimester, when it can be hard to eat much more than saltines.

2. Omega-3 DHA

Another important supplement during natural pregnancy and breastfeeding is DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, which is crucial for focus and concentration.  DHA is not only important for Mommy’s brain, but for baby’s developing one.  If the mother is not taking an adequate amount of DHA, the developing or nursing infant will get it from their mom’s reservoir.  I believe many new mothers experience foggy brain and forgetfulness because they are lacking DHA. Many experts even believe that the lack of omega-3 fatty acids contributes to postpartum depression.

DHA is most commonly present in fish oil.  It is imperative, especially during pregnancy, that your fish oil be contaminant free.  Make sure the company guarantees that it is been tested for purity and is free of PCBs and heavy metals.  Nordic Naturals and Carlson’s are two of my favorite fish oil brands and are known for their quality.

3. Red Raspberry Leaf

Red raspberry leaf is famed for its use during pregnancy.  It is one of very few safe herbs to take while pregnant.  Most pregnancy teas have red raspberry as their main ingredient.  I personally was not a fan of the taste and opted for the pill form.  However, both can dramatically improve and prevent pregnancy complications.

Here is a list of just a few of the things red raspberry leaf can do:

  • Ease morning sickness
  • Prevent miscarriage
  • Reduce pain during labor
  • Make labor faster
  • Increase milk supply

One of red raspberry’s greatest benefits is its ability to tone the uterus. This is how it is able to prevent miscarriage, reduce pain and increase labor speed.

I typically recommend 3-4 cups a day of the tea.  For the pills, I recommend:

  • 2 pills during the first trimester
  • 3 pills for the second trimester
  • 4 pills a day during the third trimester

Solaray and Nature’s Way are my go-to brands for the pills.  Most women I know who were diligent with their red raspberry leaf had their babies in less than 5 hours.  This is including myself.  My longest labor was only 2 hours.

During the last trimester I also recommend alfalfa, which builds red blood cells and helps prevent hemorrhaging.  Adequate vitamin D is also very important during pregnancy. Thirty-five (35) IU per lb of body weight is my standard recommendation.

Natural Options for Pregnancy Discomforts

There is nothing quite like the thrill of having a life formed inside of you.

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No Pain, No Gain? The Best Natural Relief

I decided to watch a bit of the Ironman competition the other night.  They began to feature a man named Lew Hollander.  He looked around 65 years old and they said he was about to complete his 21st Ironman competition.  That in itself was shocking, but then they went on to say that he was not 65 as I thought, but 80 years old!  My jaw dropped.  Lew Hollander is truly a testimony of what our bodies are capable of doing.

Many people believe that pain, discomfort and lack of physical fitness come with age.  They believe there is nothing you can do about it and you just have to “survive” the best you can.  This is not true!  Our bodies are amazing creations and made to function without pain and discomfort well into our “old age.”

If we experience pain and discomfort, then our body is giving us a message: something is out of balance.  Instead of taking medication to dull the pain, the key is to find the cause of the imbalance and correct it.

Inflammatory Pain

The #1 cause of pain is inflammation.  Whether you are dealing with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis or just over-all aches and pains, inflammation is the likely culprit.

Many things can cause inflammation in the body:

  • Injury or trauma
  • Infection
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Allergic reactions
  • Stress


When your body starts to kill the natural defense system instead of protecting it, chronic inflammation becomes a problem. To start your healing, begin at the end of the fork.  Sodas, French fries, chips and burgers are the real weapons of mass destruction.

Inflammationwas not meant to be the “bad guy.” It is actually designed to help heal. It clears damaged and dysfunctional tissue from area and creates an increased blood flow causing swelling.  This swelling allows repair cells and protein-rich plasma to gather around the wound to help heal it.

But when inflammation becomes ongoing, it can start causing more harm than good.  In fact, chronic inflammation is a disease.  This type of inflammation can cause serious conditions, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • And more

 Anti-Inflammatory Drugs = Terrible Side-Effects

Once inflammation becomes problematic, doctors typically prescribe some sort of anti-inflammatory or steroid.  These drugs may work, but long-term use is harsh on the body.   Steroids actually weaken your immune system and put you at greater risk for infections.  Long-term use of steroids can cause many harmful side-effects, including:

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