The Asthma Epidemic–The Acid Reflux connection

Asthma is one of the serious epidemics we are seeing in our population. Since just 1995, the number of diagnosed cases of this illness has jumped from 14.9 million to 34.1 million! Although one would assume this jump is a direct result of toxins in the air, this is not the underlying cause in many cases. You may be surprised to learn that 41.1% of non-smokers who have a chronic cough and 60% of those who have asthma also have acid reflux!

How does acid reflux cause asthma? First, the refluxed liquid may cause people to inhale tiny drops of acid into their lungs thus aggravating the delicate pulmonary lining and initiating spasms in the airways triggering an asthma attack. Second, the digestive acid may damage the esophageal lining and expose some of the nerves that are connected to the lungs. The irritation of the nerve endings can create a constriction of airways, thereby causing an asthma attack. Additionally, the acid can cause inflammation of the throat and larynx. To make things even more complicated, some asthma medications that dilate the bronchial tubes can produce acid reflux symptoms as they may cause the cardiac sphincter to relax—allowing acid to escape up through the esophagus. Therefore, treating the symptoms of asthma without looking at the possibility of acid reflux is like holding your finger over the hole of a sinking boat!

If the acid reflux issues are symptomatically treated with yet more medications, there may be a risk for serious long-term health issues. Acid reflux is most often treated with acid-lowering drugs.  However, the true source of most acid reflux problems is a Candida, or yeast overgrowth, in the stomach that is actually caused by low acid in the stomach itself! A yeast overgrowth slows down digestion and foods will ferment under these conditions. As Candida will also paralyze the esophageal sphincter, the gases from the fermentation push the food up through the weakened esophageal muscles.

Because candida only grows in low acid conditions in the first place–acid lowering drugs are going to further compromise digestion. As Candida proliferates,  it can promote severe dysbiosis, or poor intestinal flora. With poor intestinal flora, foods are not digested properly, nutrients are not absorbed, intestinal damage is forthcoming and eventually malnourishment will occur. Besides compromised nutrient absorption, intestinal damage causes leaky gut, which can initiate allergic tendencies such as asthma!  Therefore, one problem incorrectly treated cascades into more problems.

If we can find the source of the asthma and acid reflux epidemic, we will have the answer to help millions of people. Both asthma and acid reflux have grown exponentially since the industrialization of our food supply that spurred the creation of processed, denatured and low-nutrient foods. Before this time, most people’s diets included foods that were high in nutrients and supported good digestion like meats, poultry, eggs and dairy from grass-fed animals and cultured dairy and vegetables like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut and pickled beets. They also ate ample traditional fats like butter, lard and coconut oil and foods with natural sources of vitamins A and D like cod liver oil, liver and egg yolks, which are necessary for good digestion and nutrient absorption. With good digestion and a nutrient-rich diet, a person will diminish the probability of suffering from an illness like acid reflux, allergies and it’s related condition–asthma.

By returning to traditional farming and the foods that our ancestors ate, we will diminish the exponential growth of illnesses rooted in poor digestion. If we can move from the symptomatic treatment of asthma to solving the problem, we will help to support better health for generations to come.

For more information building health and treating acid reflux and its related illnesses such as asthma with nutrient-dense foods, see our new e-book on healing acid reflux.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

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