There is a definite substantiated connection between
allergies and asthma. Studies indicate their underlying
mechanisms may even cause each other. Up to 38
percent of patients with allergies have been diagnosed with
asthma, and 78 percent of those diagnosed with asthma have
allergies. Both as a physician and as a former allergy and
asthma sufferer myself, I’ve witnessed the tie between the two
I have believed for years they are all related to an overgrowth
of a very common organism found in every one of us in our
digestive tracts: Candida albicans. In my practice, I routinely
and successfully guide allergy and asthma patients through a
nutrition plan that dramatically reduce or completely eliminate
their symptoms. I’ll touch on highlights of that plan, but first a
few words on the individual conditions.
Types of Allergies
During an allergic reaction, your immune system is doing
its job, but it’s overreacting. Typically, allergic individuals
have developed an excess of the antibody IgE when exposed
to a certain allergen. This ultimately results in the release of
histamines and leukotrienes, causing the annoying allergy
Thirty percent of all adults and 40 percent of children suffer
from hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, which is characterized by nasal
congestion and itchy eyes. Alternatively, or additionally, an
allergic reaction can involve rashes and other skin conditions
and, in extreme cases, anaphylactic shock. Reactions can occur
due to allergen exposure via inhalation, injection, ingestion, or
through skin contact. The symptoms can be very diverse, but
usually involve the nose, eyes, lungs, and skin.
If you have a diagnosed allergy, you’ve probably heard it
categorized as an inhalant, infectious (gets worse when you’re
sick), insect, drug, physical agent (such as cold, heat, or
exercise), contact, or food allergy. A food allergy is different
from a food sensitivity; the allergy is usually severe and causes
a very noticeable reaction. Both the allergy and the sensitivity
can respond well to complementary treatments though.
Characterized by shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing,
asthma involves the combined effects of inflammation
and muscle dysfunction in the airway. The inflammation cascade
creates mucus, which worsens the obstruction, resulting
in more inflammation—resulting in a vicious cycle. Asthma
can be allergy-induced, but it is not always an allergic condition.
Regardless, it is related to allergies in that both are the
result of an over-reactive inflammation process.
Asthma can be mild (about 50 percent of cases) which may
require medication only as needed, moderate (40 percent of
cases) sometimes requiring daily medication, or severe which
involves frequent daily symptoms that need to be controlled
carefully through daily medication. Severe asthma is the
most life-threatening, however, all types can result in a lifethreatening
attack and ought to be taken seriously.
In the past, people usually were diagnosed with asthma
as children and so understood the condition well by the time
they were adults. But, increasingly, there are more cases newly
diagnosed in adults.
Where is this all coming from?
Chances are your physician has discussed allergens or key irritants
that you need to avoid or manage to help prevent your allergy or asthma from flaring up. Triggers are wide-ranged and can include: aerosol, pollution, dander, certain medications,
estrogen, extreme temperatures, dust mites, smoke, pollens,
molds, sulfites, specific foods, heartburn, chemicals and strong
emotions. Other less avoidable triggers include your own heredity,
viruses, and exercise.
Managing triggers can be exhausting. Ultimately, it doesn’t
do anything to actually remedy
your condition. The trigger isn’t
really the cause either. The
cause is an over-reaction in the
immune response. Remember
the earlier comment about gut
health? Let’s come back to that
There are more than 250
species of yeast—they are found
in almost every baked good
and we eat them all the time.
More than 150 of these species
are harmless parasites in our
bodies. We all have Candida in
our bodies; it normally lives in
the gastrointestinal tract, the
mouth, and the vagina as a part
of the normal flora in the body.
The trouble begins when there is an overgrowth of Candida.
It lacks chlorophyll and is not able to produce its own food,
so it acts like a parasite. This is usually kept under control by
probiotics, the friendly bacteria in the body. Probiotics use
yeast as food. As long as there is a good balance of the two,
there is no problem. Candida overgrowth can occur due to
dietary issues, chemical exposure, stress, or antibiotic use—
Candida is a fungus; antibiotics do not kill it, but they can kill
Similar factors can also cause a condition called leaky
gut. Imagine the cells of the gut, lining the interior in a
honeycomb pattern. With leaky gut, there are gaps in the
honeycomb where cells have broken down. Poorly digested
food particles, pathogens, and yeast can now pass through
into the body. Candida may wander to other parts of the body
where it should not be, such as the lungs and sinuses. It
causes inflammation and can result in chronic stuffy nose,
sinus headaches, difficulty breathing, wheezing, and even
With patients who struggle with allergies and asthma, and
those who test positive for more than 10 food sensitivities, I
can almost always assume the presence of leaky gut and treat
for it accordingly. A Healing Phase Diet, which permits the
gut to totally mend itself and rules out sources of yeast and
foods that feed yeast, will last three months as long as you
keep to the requirements. Straying even a little can draw out
the healing period to six months or more.
Similar to other cleansing diets you may know about, the
basics of this nutritional approach are a little more intensive
Ruling out sugar in all its forms. These are food sources for
yeast, which includes all syrups, honey, molasses, chemical
sweeteners, and fruit. Tomatoes, commonly mistook as
vegetables, are fruits that need to be avoided too. Sushi rice
usually contains sugar to make it sticky. Skip the lunch meats
and processed foods—almost all have sweeteners
in them; read labels.
Ruling out all yeast
and fungus sources.
Refrain from consuming
mushrooms and yeast-containing
(if it rises, it contains
yeast). Avoid vinegar and
vinegar; try using olive
oil and lemon or lime
juice to make your own
salad dressing. Avoid all
fermented foods, alcohol,
dairy products (especially
cheeses), and smoked and
Opening your mind to all the things you CAN eat! Most
of the foods you’re avoiding are ingredients in highly processed
foods. You’ll find yourself cooking healthier wholefood
meals by default once you rule out the ingredients that
have been keeping you in a state of inflammation and Candida
overgrowth. (See the article “What CAN I Eat?” on page
12 to learn more)
Supplementing with multivitamins, natural anti-candida
herbals, and probiotics. In my practice, I recommend Alphabetic
as a multi and build my patients’ vitamin program from
there. Grapeseed extract, Caprylic acid, and garlic are effective
anti-candida supplements. For establishing healthy probiotics,
I use Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics 12 PLUS, a vegetarian
probiotic blend that has extensive research supporting it.
Sometimes, major lifestyle changes like this seem overwhelming.
But when compared to juggling medications and
constantly avoiding triggers, most allergy and asthma sufferers
are excited at the opportunity to breathe free naturally
and bring their immune system back into a state of equilibrium.
After the Healing Phase Diet it is also possible to go
through a four-month careful reintroduction of many of the
foods you’ve been avoiding.
Dr. Fred Pescatore’s book, The Allergy and Asthma Cure provides
in-depth description of the Healing Phase Diet and helpful
recipes and menu plans. His book, Thin for Good, contains
more cooking tips along with insight into the connection
between yeast-overgrowth and weight management.