Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Asthma Super Foods: Ginger Lemondae

In battling a cold this past weekend, I discovered the powerful anti-inflammatory effects of ginger up close and personal. Ginger is a super food, no question about it.

Studies have shown that it can markedly reduce pain and inflammation as well as reduce nausea. Because its effects are systemic, it is a potent asthma super food.

Having tried it over the last few days, I would compare its strength and effect to that of Benadryl. It definitely opens up my airways. I can actually feel the inflammation shrinking away.

Now, keep in mind, I'm talking about the ginger root here, not the ground spice we use in baking. The ground ginger spice is too dilute. You need the raw ginger to reap its benefits.

It's easy to find in grocery stores and I strongly encourage you to try this. Especially for those asthma flares where you're caught between doses, but still need something, or if nothing you take is working.

Ginger is safe with no known contraindications. If you try it and it works well for you (or even does nothing at all), please let me know in the comments. I'd like to catalog the effects it has on asthma.

So you want to try ginger, but aren't interested in a stir-fry. I know the feeling! Since it's summer, try making the cool, refreshing ginger lemonade recipe below and sipping it throughout the day. I've noticed that ginger's effects last about two to four hours, so this lemonade makes re-dosing easy.

As for the flavor, it tastes like ginger ale mixed with lemonade. In fact, if you wanted to go crazy, you could add seltzer to make home-made pop.

Makes: 1 pitcher, 6 servings.

Preparation: 5 minutes to make plus 20 minutes of steeping. I often mix this up in the morning with room temperature water, let it steep on the counter for however long I have and then put it in the fridge to cool.


-3" of ginger, skin peeled and flesh diced into small pieces.
-3 lemons, sliced
-1/4 cup Stevia in the Raw (or other sweetener)
-Water to fill the pitcher (remember to use filtered water)


Simply put all the ingredients in the pitcher. Add water and let steep at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before putting in the fridge.

Be sure to drink the ginger lemonade the day it's made so its active ingredients don't oxidize and weaken.

If you are having a significant asthma flare, this lemonade may not be strong enough. I would recommend steeping a 1/2" piece of ginger (finely diced) in plain, hot water and drinking it straight.  It's kind of spicy this way, and not as delicious but much more medicinal.

Want to learn more about ginger? Read here and here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Eat to Breathe Manifesto: #5 Progress Not Perfection

Eating to breathe is a transition, it doesn’t have to be perfect. There just has to be consistent forward motion.
In the beginning, mistakes happen because you’re still learning. I remember when I first eliminated sugar from my diet I went on to accidentally eat a mint. It was just one of those habitual things I did without thinking. Even though I was scouring labels for hidden sugar, it didn’t even occur to me that my after-dinner mint was a no-no. What did I do? I learned from it and moved on, which is what you need to do.
Stuff happens, try not to worry about the past so much as focusing on planning your future to ensure your success. When you make mistakes, identify their root cause and decide how you will avoid the same mistake down the road.
As your life becomes more integrated with the principles here, you’ll do better, but there will always be those times where you end up eating something less than desirable. Maybe you had a bad day, or you’re on vacation, or traveling and there’s nothing but fast food, or you attend a wedding---all these events have happened to me and presented opportunities to eat less-than-ideal food. Sometimes you can anticipate and bring your own food or will find something on the menu that will work for you. Other times, you just eat what’s there because there’s nothing else to eat.
In the near future, I’ll share strategies on how to mitigate the effects of consuming the wrong foods, but know that , in the grand scheme of things, they will not hurt you so long as you plan the work and work the plan.
Read the rest of the Eat to Breathe Manifesto here.

Eat to Breath Manifesto: # 4 Feed Hunger Functional Foods.

If you are hungry, eat, but, instead of interpreting hunger as a signal to order a pizza, take it as a request for more nutrition in the form of fresh vegetables and raw fruits. Over time, your hunger will fade if you consistently respond by consuming vegetables and fruits that build the body up instead of tearing it down like most snacks do. 

Before you snack, ask three questions:

1.What can I eat to improve my health?

2. How can I eat something that cares for my body?

3. Will it help or hurt my breathing?

           I use these questions to keep me oriented on what I need to do to be successful. In fact, they are taped on my fridge.

Read the rest of the Eat to Breathe Manifesto here.

Eat to Breathe Manifesto: # 3 Understand the Intention of Your Food and its Value to Your Health

One of the things I’ve done with the recipes on this website is explain the health benefits of each ingredient. You'll see an ingredient list after every recipe and a brief outline of how a particular food lowers cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. I also include links to references for anyone who wants even more information on how a particular food functions in their body. With my recipes, you will always know the function of the food you are consuming.
When you know that your food is preventing cancer, protecting your heart and lowering your risk of disease with every bite, you can’t help but be a little more excited about eating it. Food has powerful medicinal effects, but we’ve discounted those as a culture. I’ve added that information back in, making it an integral part of each recipe.
Read the rest of the Eat to Breathe Manifesto here.

Eat to Breathe Manifesto: #2 Address Food Allergies

Half of all asthmatics have food allergies and allergies can worsen asthma, which makes it important to determine which foods might be a trigger. Did you know food related asthma attacks are considered the most dangerous? 
This is important, don't neglect it. Even subtle food allergies may be harmful to your health.

-Test yourself for wheat sensitivity or intolerance by eliminating all wheat from your diet.

-Evaluate other common allergens; eggs, dairy, peanuts, soy, shellfish, milk and other food proteins. 

Here are some good links on food elimination diets to isolate allergies:

Wheat Makes Asthma Worse

Read the rest of the Eat to Breathe Manifesto here.

Eat to Breath Manifesto: # 1 Eat Functional Foods

Functional foods restore health and inhibit disease and few people in the First World eats enough of them. In the future, I believe most of our modern health problems will not only be traced back to the industrialization of our diet, but also the failure of medical science to recognize and utilize the medicinal power of food.
Today, we eat industrial, mechanized foods that have had their healing properties stripped, fried and boiled out of them. Not only does the food no longer decay, dead bodies take longer to decompose due to all the food chemicals stored in our fat.
Further, asthmatics really get the short end of the stick. We take steroids, which saves our lives in the short run, only to ruin our health in the long run. The toxic effects of today’s mass produced, chemically flavored foods are magnified and compounded by steroids. If asthmatics aren’t aggressive about off-setting the damage of steroid use, their health will suffer. I know because it happened to me and I’m turning it around with the steps outlined in this website.
How will you incorporate functional foods into your life? Below I’ve listed the specifics, that serve as guiding principles for this blog. Count how many you’ve already heard before.
-Eat low glycemic fruits
-Eat green vegetables
-Buy organic, including meat
-Switch to glass food storage and avoid plastic
-Filter your water
-Use qunioa pasta in place of regular pasta
-Bake with almond and flax flours
-Eliminate pro-inflammatory fast food, sugar and flour (both white and whole wheat)
-Swap treats with nutritional counterparts (for example, see the recipe for chocolate cake or pancakes)
-Drink tea and water instead of coffee, juice and pop--not even diet pop.
Most of these are things everyone has heard at one time or another, so maybe we eat an apple and try a glass of iced tea...once. This is not enough. You must hit critical mass in the phytonutrient density of your diet in order to tip your body on the path to good health. That’s what this whole blog is about, creating a nutritional tipping point within your body that counteracts the asthma.
Read the rest of the Eat to Breathe Manifesto here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Low Sugar Green Smoothie

If you think this looks weird, you should see the brown smoothies.
There's no question that smoothies have a lot of health benefits to offer. They increase the consumption of greens, which are rich in phytonutrients and combat inflammation. In addition, absorption of nutrients is increased over chewing a salad vs. drinking a smoothie. Per Dr. Fuhrman of Eat to Live fame, chewing a salad results in absorbing just 20% of the nutrients compared to the 95% absorbed from a smoothie.

However, there's a catch. In order to make these green smoothies palatable, especially to newcomers whose palates haven't been trained to like pureed celery and the like, recipes include copious amounts of sugar hidden in the form of fruit. Two Medjool dates seem like a great, healthy way to sweeten a smoothie right up until you read the label and see they have more total sugar than a Snickers candy bar or a can of Coke.

For most people, sweetening smoothies with high sugar fruits is probably okay and an improvement over what they were eating before. But for asthmatics, who have deranged insulin levels due to either current or long term steroid use, these smoothies will cause weight gain in the short term and diabetes in the long term same as any other high sugar food.

For me, the first red flag went up when I saw recipes with dates, mangoes and bananas. I had to wonder, how bad do these green smoothies taste that they require so much sugar? I couldn't eat that much fruit in its whole, un-pureed form without gaining weight. How was blending it into a smoothie going to work?

And I really wanted a smoothie, because I needed to increase my phytonutrient density as I healed from a bad asthma episode. The only question, could I make something I would be willing to ingest without adding a ton of sweeteners?

Happily the answer is yes and I share the recipe with you below.

Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

Serves: 1 to 2 people (depending on the size of your appetite)

Prep Time: 10 minutes.

-1 1/2 cups spinach (organic as it's a high pesticide crop)
-1 cup water
-1 cup frozen wild blueberries ( I buy the Wyman's brand at Costco)
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-1 tsp. cocoa powder
-2 tbsps. ground flax seed ( I prefer the golden flax seed)
-1 tbsp. Stevia


1.Load ingredients into an ice-crushing blender in the following order: Spinach first, water second, blueberries third.

2.Blend, stopping to push down ingredients with a spoon to enhance blending.

3.Once everything is blended, add the cinnamon, cocoa powder, flax seed and stevia. Give it a whirl to incorporate the dry ingredients.

4.Serve and drink as soon as it's ready.

5. Clean containers immediately after use as flax seed dries like cement.

Note:The cinnamon and cocoa powder are included for both their health benefits and flavor notes. You see, the trick to enjoying a green smoothie is ensuring there's a taste at the forefront that beats out that of the greens. The first flavor note I taste with this smoothie is cocoa powder.

Here's a break down of the nutritional profile of this recipe:

Spinach: Reduces systemic inflammation and is especially good for inflammation in the gut (many asthmatics on steroids complain of heartburn, a sign of GI inflammation). Cancer protective.

Blueberries: Naturally sweet and low-glycemic (read: low in sugar) these berries contain more antioxidants than any other berry you can eat. The anti-oxidants of blueberries have system-wide effects, meaning they directly help the lungs.Improves cholesterol, lowers blood pressure and may improve blood sugar levels

Cinnamon: Improves blood sugar control. Lowers the glycemic impact of food consumed with the spice.

Cocoa Powder: Lowers blood pressure (which can go high while taking steroids) and improves cholesterol.

Flax Seed: Adds bulk to help keep you full longer. Excellent source of anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids and is anti-inflammatory. Full of fiber and cancer fighting ligands.

This was the only debate I could find in the smoothie community about the sugar content of smoothies. Read the comments to find the best nuggets of information.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Anti-Inflammatory Fattoush Salad

Fattoush Salad is a Middle Eastern salad that usually includes bread, but I leave out the pro-inflammatory gluten when I make it!

This salad  has a bright, lively flavor and is packed with herbs and vegetables that fight inflammation, prevent cancer and protect your heart. Some of the recipe components even act like natural Singulair! Even more importantly, it tastes fantastic.

Here's how I make a Fattoush Salad that fills the belly and feeds the body.
Serves: 4-6

Prep Time: 20minutes of chopping, 30 minutes to marinate.


-1 cup chopped herbs. A mix of chives, cilantro, flat parsley and mint. All organic, if possible.
-1/3 cup finely diced organic red onion
-2 cloves organic garlic, minced
-1 organic red pepper diced
-1 organic cucumber, sliced
-1 organic tomato, sliced
-Salt (either Sea Salt or Himalayan Pink Salt)
-Juice of two organic lemons
-1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil (start with 1/2 cup and add more if needed)
-5 to 6 cups organic lettuce mix
-4oz. crumbled feta cheese (on the side)


1. Approximately 45 minutes before you want to eat, combine the chopped herbs, onion, garlic, red pepper, cucumber, salt, lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl. Let marinate on the kitchen counter while you prepare the rest of your meal--we like to serve this salad with grilled chicken, so we would put the meat on the grill at this juncture.

2. Toss the lettuce with the salad dressing and serve with feta cheese on the side.

Optional: You can add or subtract any veggie that sounds good to you. I'm actually sensitive to tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, so I had carrots and celery with my salad.

A run down of the health benefits of this salad:

Cilantro: Known in some parts of the world as the 'anti-diabetic herb' this delicious herb also has anti-inflammatory and cholesterol lowering effects.

Chives: A cousin of garlic with similar health benefits. Anti-inflammatory, anti-bugs that make asthmatics sick, cancer preventative and good for your heart. Find out more when I start talking about the health benefits of garlic proper a little further down the page.

Flat Parsley: This herb is cancer protective and full of vitamins C and A.

Mint: Soothes digestion and good for the respiratory tract with action similar to prescription medications such as Singulair. (Note: Do not discontinue medication and try to self-treat asthma with herbs. Seek the care of a knowledgeable Functional or Integrative MD first, and, in the interim, incorporate mint into your diet.)

Onion: Lowers cholesterol, prevents blood clots, increases bone density, anti-inflammatory and reduces cancer risk.

Red Pepper: Fights inflammation and cancer protective.

Tomato: Reduces risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's.

Cucumber: Full of anti-oxidants, including quercetin. Potent anti-inflammatory effects and protects against cancer.

Garlic: Improves iron absorption (helpful since anemia is often present with autoimmune conditions like asthma). Concentrated source of Selenium, a key anti-oxidant that lowers the risk of cancer. May regulate fat cell formation to inhibit weight gain. Heart and cancer protective. Anti-inflammatory "across all body systems" which is a huge benefit for asthmatics! Anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties with valid applications in mainstream medicine.

Lemon: Loaded with vitamin C which is cardioprotective and boosts the immune system to help asthmatics beat bugs.

Olive Oil: Associated with decreased risk of heart disease, when part of a healthy diet. Reduces risk of cancer. Full of anti-inflammatory polyphenols:

"Research has documented a wide variety of anti-inflammatory mechanisms used by olive oil polyphenols to lower our risk of inflammatory problems. These mechanisms include decreased production of messaging molecules that would otherwise increase inflammation (including TNF-alpha, interleukin 1-beta, thromboxane B2, and leukotriene B4); inhibition of pro-inflammatory enzymes like cyclo-oxygenase 1 and cyclo-oxygenase 2; and decreased synthesis of the enzyme inducible nitric oxide synthase.

In heart patients, olive oil and its polyphenols have also been determined to lower blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a widely used blood measurement for assessing the likelihood of unwanted inflammation.

They have also been found to reduce activity in a metabolic pathway called the arachidonic acid pathway, which is central for mobilizing inflammatory processes."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Breathing Blueberry Pancakes: Gluten Free, Packed with Nutrition

We've covered the value of flax seed and almond flour in previous posts (here and here), so now it's time to make some pancakes! These pancakes are super easy to make--we just microwave them. No standing over the skillet for a half hour with another half hour of clean-up after the meal--which is sometimes not possible if your asthma is flaring. These take about five minutes to pull together into a hearty, healthy meal.

Here's a list of just some of the health benefits these pancakes offer; They lower your blood sugar, improve cholesterol levels and are full of Omega 3 fatty acids as well as protein and fiber. In terms of nutrition, they offer a lot more than any pancake made with flour ever will.

Makes: 2 pancakes (double and triple the recipe to make more)

Serves: 1 person.

Time: 5 minutes for prep, 1 minute to cook.


-1/4 cup almond flour
-2 tbsps. ground flax seed (for best flavor, I prefer the golden flax seed)
-1/2 tbsp butter (soft or melted in microwave)
-1/2 tsp. baking powder
-1 egg white (you can use the yolk, if you want, but I don't like the eggy flavor)
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tbsp Stevia
-1/4 cup (approximately) water
-1/4 cup blueberries

Reminder: Always store flax seed and almond flour in the refrigerator to extend shelf life and prevent the oils from going rancid.


-Spray two baking containers with non-stick spray. You can use any microwave proof dish, but select something that is about the diameter of a pancake. I use the small bowls from a set like this.

-Mix all ingredients, except the blueberries and 1/4 cup water, in one of the baking containers.

-Assess the batter texture. Add some of the water and stir and assess again. You want a goopy, pudding-like consistency in the batter.

-Split batter into two separate containers--use the one you mixed in and another to make the second pancake.

-Sprinkle blueberries on top of pancakes.

-Microwave for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. (Check at the minute mark if this is the first time you've made them and see if they're done. They should be dry, not tacky or gooey.)

-Transfer to plate, top with butter and syrup and serve!

A note on maple syrup: I'm sure someone is wondering 'isn't it sugar and isn't sugar bad?' Well, yes and no. Natural sugars like maple syrup and honey come with health promoting enzymes and other micro-nutrients. Used sparingly and sourced locally, they are fine in small amounts.

If you like to drown your pancakes in syrup though, I would suggest opting for a diabetic syrup (they are quite tasty, although full of chemicals) or only making these pancakes when you are not on steroids. Further, if you have these pancakes for breakfast, try to limit sugar and carbohydrate intake the rest of the day to balance out the sugar load in the syrup. Exercise after eating this meal will blunt the impact of the pancakes on your blood sugar as well.

You might also like:

Magical High Nutrient Cookies

Happy Lungs Chocolate Cake

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wheat Makes Asthma Worse

Why Should Asthmatics Avoid Wheat?

Anyone struggling with difficult-to-control asthma or in the throes of an acute flare should seriously consider avoiding wheat. In the past, medical science only recognized Celiac's Disease as an indication someone should cut out gluten. However, according to Dr. Mark Hyman, new research reveals that we can also be gluten sensitive or gluten intolerant without meeting the diagnostic criteria for Celiac's. 

In fact, people can have a completely different kind of reaction than the one physicians look for in Celiac's! Further, the kind of wheat we eat now, is a mass produced crop that is manipulated in multiple ways to increase harvest yields.

As the harvest has increased so has Celica's. Dr. Hyman says we've seen a 400% increase in cases of Celiac's, which affects 12% of the total population, and roughly 7% of us are now gluten intolerant. However, I have seen figures citing as many as 43% of us may not be able to tolerate gluten, so it may be quite a bit more than that.

What happens if you can't tolerate gluten? Your asthma control suffers.

Does Gluten Really Trigger Asthma? 

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation says yes. On their website, they state "The most commonly reported symptoms seen with wheat allergy include: atopic dermatitis, urticaria, asthma, allergic rhinitis, anaphylactic shock and digestive symptoms."

How likely is an asthmatic to have a food allergy? About half of all asthmatics are going to be allergic to a food of one kind or another. This makes it vital for asthmatics to sort out which side of the fifty-fifty odds they fall on.

If you have asthma, a gluten free trial might improve your health. A frank allergy is pretty easy to spot; once you stop eating gluten you do better. But cause and effect can be more hidden in a gluten intolerance--it may not matter until your asthma flares or may subtly contribute to hard-to-control asthma.

Overall, wheat is a pro-inflammatory food. It promotes and fosters systemic inflammation per Dr. Hyman, which is a major component of asthma. This is why I avoid it and suggest other asthmatics do as well. At the very least, if you are experiencing a serious asthma flare, cut out the wheat and other inflammatory foods to reduce inflammation in your body.

Gluten Does Not Meet the Nutritional Needs of Asthmatics

Despite the commercials and constant exhortations in the media, wheat, even whole grain wheat, has very little nutrition. Especially when it comes to asthmatics, who might not only be allergic to wheat, it also jacks up blood sugar. Consider this factoid from Dr. Hyman:
"Two slices of whole wheat bread now raise your blood sugar more than two tablespoons of table sugar."
So here I am, fighting an acute asthma flare. I'm on steorids, which increase my insulin response and inhibit nutrient absorption and what exactly is bread going to do for me in that situation? Nothing! For me and my lungs, wheat is not a source of nutrition.

If I want to maximize the nutrition of my food intake to help control my asthma, I can't do that eating gluten. That's just the way it is and I'm okay with it. I'm not deprived at all. In fact, I just had toast this morning.You can see a picture of it at the top of this post (take another look, and tell me if you didn't think it was real bread!). Only took a minute to make. 

If you are interested in improving your overall health and asthma control, stick around. I have tons of recipes and simple changes you can make to stop the wheeze and eat to breathe.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Magical High Nutrient Cookies

I got a little sidetracked from walnuts and ended up making cookies instead. However,  I still plan on a 'how to eat more walnuts' post. But first cookies.

Please keep in mind that eating with asthma is not about deprivation, it's about choosing foods that improve your health and mitigate steroid side effects. These cookies fit the bill on both counts. They are buttery and sweet, everything you want in a cookie.

In fact, they are magic.

No, I'm not crazy. See, even though these cookies have high sugar items such as dried fruit and chocolate, they have an even lower glycemic index because of one secret ingredient.

Just using this one ingredient in your baking will decrease the impact of the sugar on your system. And if you've read all the previous posts, you know that steroids make folks very susceptible to high blood sugar.

What is the magic secret?

Almond flour!

In studies, combining almond flour with other foods, markedly lowered the glycemic load and improved blood sugar response. (Reference.)  Almonds are also full of magnesium, which is a natural bronchodilator often used in the Emergency Room to relax airways.(Reference.) Further, did you know that asthmatics tend to have low magnesium levels? (Reference.) I do! Which is probably why magnesium supplements and ER treatments are so helpful for my breathing.

Further, almond flour is full of heart healthy fats, fiber and protein. It fills you up and nourishes your body--I'm all about that!

Sure, I call it a cookie, but really it's a health food. Shhh. No one has to know.

I've made this recipe many, many times and let me tell you, the batch never lasts more than 24 hours. Usually I end up hiding the cookies so there will be some left for the next day.

You don't need nutrient poor, pro-inflammatory flour to make cookies! You can make a cookie that improves your health and delights your taste buds. Here's how:

Makes: Approximately 12 cookies.
Time: 20 minutes prep, 10-20 minutes to bake.

-1/2 cup Stevia
-1/2 cup butter OR 1/4 cup coconut oil
-1 tbsp vanilla extract
-1 egg
-2 1/4 cups almond flour (I buy mine online.)
-1/4 cup dried cherries or other fruit i.e. raisins, chopped prunes, craisins etc...
-1/2 cup Ghiradelli chocolate chips 60% cacao (organic is better if you can find it, don't use other name brands their cacao content is quite low.)

1.Preheat the oven to 350F
2.Cream sweetener and butter, then add the vanilla and egg. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
3.Add baking soda.
4.Mix in 2 1/4 cups flour.
5.Stir in chocolate and cherries.
6.Form dough into balls about the size of a ping-pong ball. Place on cookie sheet and flatten with your fingers (this recipe needs a little help spreading).
7.Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray.
8.Bake for 10-12 minutes but check at the 8 minute mark until you know how your oven bakes almond flour.
9.Let cookies sit and cool for 5-10 minutes--moving them too soon can cause them to break.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Walnuts: The Easy Super Food

When was the last time you had some walnuts? What if I told you that walnuts had the ability to:

-Reduce inflammation (always good for asthmatics)
-Control weight  (stop steroid weight gain!)
-Improve cholesterol (bad cholesterol is a side effect of steroids)
-Fight cancer (steroids increase insulin response, cancer feeds itself on insulin)

Would you eat them now?

Amazingly, just 5% of the population regularly consumes any kind of nut, which is a shame. They are packed with health, brimming with nutrients that can restore our bodies.

Here's a case study for you: me! Let's look at my cholesterol before I incorporated walnuts into my diet on a daily basis:

Total Cholesterol: 183.

This is not high, it's within range, but it's still a heart attack waiting to happen. Here's why:

HDL: 34                           Way too low
Triglycerides:165               High
LDL: 128                          Borderline
Non LDL: 149                  Not good
Total Ratio: 5.38               Too high
HDL to LDL Ratio: 0.266 Too low

Pretty much everything that isn't supposed to be high, is high and the HDL is low when it should be closer to 60. This is dyslipidemia, which I call 'cholesterol by steroids'.  Asthmatics, over the course of the disease, can easily be exposed to enough steroids to induce insulin resistance which leads to distorted heart attack cholesterol.

What is insulin resistance? It's what I call the 'triple calorie effect' of steroids. Calories are seemingly multiplied by a factor of three when on steroids, and, take them long enough, you'll have permanent metabolic changes due to steroid use (I do).

Prednisone puts your body into weight gain mode. With good nutrition and some planning, you can prevent weight gain, but no patients I know have ever received any nutritional guidance on how to do that (hence the raison d'etre for this blog).

Diet and nutrition are so critical for anyone taking steroids. If you don't counteract their impact on your physiology, steroids will ravage your health. Short term, they help asthmatics breathe. Long term, they mess up our entire body chemistry.

And the impact of steroids on cholesterol can be hard to fix. At least it was for me. I had lost weight, changed my diet, gained weight, exercised, stopped exercising--everything--and nothing touched my cholesterol. For years and years.

Then I started eating walnuts. Every day for a month.  And here's what happened to my cholesterol numbers:

Total Cholesterol: 151         Within range.
HDL: 43                             Improving!
LDL: 81                             Optimal!
Non LDL: 108                   Improved, but needs more walnuts.
Total Ratio: 3.51                 Good!
Triglycerides:137                Normal!
HDL to LDL ratio: 0.531   Normal!

While I want to get my HDL higher, for the first time in almost ten years, my cholesterol is trending toward normal.

This is the power of just a month of walnuts. "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." (Hippocrates)

Of course, keep in mind, I didn't eat walnuts and then chow down on refined, processed foods. My entire diet supported my health and set up an environment where the walnuts could work their mojo.

It's not just about any one food, it's about the symphony of nutrition at play in your body.

In my next post, I'll discuss how to eat more walnuts. Including recipes!

Until then, take a moment to imagine how your health could change if you took a medicinal approach to nutrition. Start today by eating some walnuts.

More about cholesterol ratios.

More about walnuts.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Happy Lungs Chocolate Cake

Makes: One 8" round cake or 10 to 12 cupcakes/muffins

Time: 40 minutes. 20 minutes preparation, 20 minutes in the oven.

-1/2 cup coconut oil  (or butter if you don't have coconut oil on hand)
-1/2 cup Stevia
-1/3 cup water
-3 eggs
-1 tbsp. vanilla
-1 1/2 cup almond flour
-2 tsps. baking soda
-1/2 cup cocoa powder (organic if possible)
-1/2 cup ground flax seed

if making cupcakes add...
-1/2 cup Ghiradelli chocolate chip (FYI other chocolate chip brands are no longer real chocolate, also organic is always better)

if making cake, ice with...
-3/4 cup Nutella

-1 mashed banana to give the cake a chewy fudge texture as well as a nice banana flavor.

1.Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mix coconut oil and Stevia. Add in eggs, vanilla and water.
3.Once all the wet ingredients are combined, mix in almond flour, baking soda, cocoa powder and flax seed.
4.Assess the batter texture. 'Pretty' cakes and muffins with almond flour rely on a soft, wet texture--like a mousse. If the batter seems dry, add a few tablespoons of water.
5.Bake for 20 minutes at 350F. This cake can over bake quickly so keep an eye on the oven.

When made as muffins/cupcakes, these will keep in the fridge for up to ten days--making them an easy breakfast option. I heat them in the microwave for 18 seconds to melt the chocolate chips--it's like having a chocolate fudge cake for breakfast.

How can chocolate cake be good for asthmatics?

Here's the short version of how this recipe nourishes your health as opposed to just filling your stomach with any old thing.

Gluten free: Emerging science shows that about half  the population is gluten intolerant or sensitive and asthmatics are even more likely to have food allergies. No gluten means less inflammation and better breathing.

Almond Flour: Adds protein and fiber to blunt insulin response which stops weight gain, especially for those asthmatics who are insulin resistant as a result of steroid use or who are using steroids currently.

Never cooked with almond flour? It's very easy and versatile...assuming you like nuts. It also can feel expensive, but a 5 lb. bag lasts a long time. Baking for my family, 5 lbs will  last us three to four months. Muffins work out to be less than $1 each, very affordable.

Note: Store almond flour in the refrigerator to keep the natural fats from going rancid and extend shelf life.

Read more about the health benefits of almonds.

Flax Seed: A great source of Omega 3 and ligands that promote good health and reduce inflammation. Good source of fiber to blunt insulin response which keeps you full longer and stops weight gain.

Ground flax seed is readily available at grocery stores. In terms of flavor, I prefer the golden flax seed. Because the oils in the seed degrade quickly, always store ground flax seed in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.

Read more about the health benefits of flax seeds.

Coconut Oil: A tasty fat less likely to pack on pounds. It has been shown to boost energy as well as metabolism.

Read more about the health benefits of coconut oil.

Eggs: Good source of protein which wards off hunger and steroid munchies.

Cocoa Powder: Packed with anti-oxidants that decrease inflammation. For me, personally, the cocoa powder in this recipe lowers my blood pressure markedly. This is good for those times I'm using a lot of albuterol which tends to increase it.

Read more about the health benefits of cocoa.

Stevia: Blunts insulin response, which combats weight gain. Further, studies have shown, at the right dose, that Stevia can lower cholesterol. This is important to asthmatics because dyslipidemia can develop with long term steroid use--all the good cholesterol disappears and the bad heart attack cholesterol takes over.

Read more about the health benefits of stevia.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Superfood Sweet Tea

This summer, swap out that sugar laden, low grade sweet tea for something that contributes to your health and nourishes your body. This healthy sweet tea recipe uses green tea and burns belly fat, which tends to accumulate in asthmatics due to steroid use. It is full of anti-oxidants to combat inflammation and even fights cancer by turning on protective genes in our bodies.

So, yeah, all that hype about green tea you've heard? Is totally true. And it can help asthmatcis breathe because it doesn't just slake thirst, it adds to health.

Note that green tea does cross-react with some medications. Check with your pharmacist or physician to make sure it's safe for you.

Ingredients for one 16oz cup:

-Two Matcha green tea bags. (Matcha is the highest quality green tea around. I buy it in bulk at Costco or online.)
-One mint tea bag
-1-2 tsps. of locally sourced honey (local honey is more likely to retain enzymes that benefit your health)


On a hot summer day, you don't even need to heat the water, you can cold brew your superfood sweet tea in just a few minutes. Simply pour the water into a glass, add the tea bags, let steep. Stir in honey just before consuming.

In cold weather, heat the water until just hot. High temperatures inhibit the potency of the Matcha green tea.

Don't just fill your belly, feed your body good health!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hello Lungs of the World!

I'm a severe asthmatic with a deep interest in nutrition. I eat to breathe and so can you!