Katherine lived four decades without asthma. Shortly after moving to Atlanta from Connecticut, she started getting a tight chest when she ran in colder weather. A moldy apartment would later push her to inhaler dependence. Additional health problems caused Katherine to making significant changes to her diet and lifestyle. Today Katherine has made enormous strides in healing her asthma, her asthma symptoms and her dependency on asthma medication.
Here is a bit of her story:
Tell me about how you developed asthma in your 40s.
I moved to Georgia when I was 40. I was a runner. I started running when it was cold out, and I would get this annoying tightness in my chest. I then moved to a moldy place. I would wake up and could hardly breathe. A few years later, I went to a doctor and I was diagnosed with asthma. At this point I knew I had to do something because this was not going to get any better on its own.
What was triggering your asthma?
I had my blood tested for food sensitivities and they found the usual culprits – wheat and dairy. I gave up wheat and in two and half weeks my health was a lot better.
Did you do anything else other than giving up wheat and dairy?
I read a book about reversing asthma that talked about fish oil. What I started doing was taking Nordic Naturals Fish Oil in a teaspoon. I recently changed that to a tablespoon. I take a tablespoon after breakfast. I don’t think there is anything bad about having more fish oil than that, but that is what I take. You could also eat salmon, but it would have to be wild salmon. Fish is a scary thing these days because all of it is loaded with toxins. You have to take fish oil produced from wild fish. The Nordic Naturals Fish Oil is not cheap, but it is worth the price. You can’t take regular fish oil capsules because you would need to take 16 capsules to get the daily dose of what you need.
I went to an allergist and had complete allergy testing, with the pin pricks. They found out that I was allergic to almost everything. I started allergy shots, which I kept up for about five years.
I have read a lot since then about getting the good fats into your diet and getting the bad fats out of your diet to improve your health. Bad fats are any of the seed oils, such as corn oil or vegetable oil. You need to also stop eating things like mayonnaise and prepared salad dressings. Now I fry or heat in coconut oil and use olive oil on “cold” food like salad. The problem with with this diet, of course, is you can’t eat out at most restaurants and you can’t buy processed food.
Did you make any other modifications to your diet to help your asthma?
I drive across town to get butter from cows that eat grass. I never heat olive oil because it denatures it and your body can’t digest and utilize it properly. I do not eat much beef, but what I eat is grass-fed. I eat eggs from an actual farm, which are getting easier to get these days in Atlanta. I eat two eggs every day. You have to eat eggs over-easy or poached to get the benefit of the runny yolk. I don’t eat potatoes, bread, breakfast cereal or pizza. I cook my meals from scratch. I eat salmon. It is hard to do this diet, but I would rather use the diet than take medicine for my asthma, as the side effects of those medications are not good for you.
I also accidentally reversed periodontal disease with this diet. Three or four years into the diet, my gums became perfect. The dentist did not want to hear that I cured this disease with diet. He looked actually angry with me when I told him I cured myself. At one point he said to me, “I don’t believe you ever had problems.” And I said, “Look at the charts.” Sure enough, five years ago, they were measuring the gaps in my gums.
Did you make any changes to your home environment?
I got very serious about my home environment. I went out and bought covers to go over my mattresses. I took all of the carpet out of my bedroom. I change my sheets once a week so the dust mites do not get to me. I know now if I don’t keep my sheets really clean I will wake up with a tight chest from the dust mites.
After making the changes to my diet and home, all of my health problems started to improve. I felt my asthma very much ease up. In 2006, I had a lot of sinus problems, and my doctor gave me nasal saline, which had a wonderful effect on opening up my nasal passages.
How often do you use your inhaler now?
I would say that I use my rescue inhaler, albuterol, two or three times a month now. The air in Atlanta is very poor in the summer, and on two occasions I had to call the doctor and take QVAR, a corticosteroid spray, to calm down the inflammation in my lungs. I am going on vacation to Guadalupe soon. The air is very clean there, and I always feel really good while I am there.
When I began this journey, I had to move out of my apartment because of the mold. I remember one time, I went to a bar and I could smell the mold and had to leave because of it. Now I can go to where I please, dance, breathe, socialize and have no tightness in my chest.
Could you talk more about good oils and the bad oils?
Commercial seed oils are bad to eat because they are refined with heat. There is a huge body of literature and a ton of controversy around this, but any of the natural healing books you pick up these days will talk about the negative impact of commercial oils. There are a lot of people who talk about the deleterious effects of these bad oils. Some good books are Nourishing Traditionsand Good Fats, Bad Fats. Before World War II, we ate a lot of fat. They made pies from lard. We drank milk with milk fat. That was back in the days when cows were in fields. We ate butter from cows that actually ate grass. Those were fats that would the soothe inflammation that causes asthma. Coconut oil was very prevalent in the United States before World War II. People were accustomed to seeing it and using it. Coconut oil is a bit of a pain because it is a solid below 76 degrees, so you can’t just pour it, but it actually has a very nice flavor.
Prior to World War II, seed oils were only used in paint and similar things, but the “edible oil industry,” as they call themselves, found a way to refine these oils and to take the objectionable taste and odor out. When I look at that, I think, “Do I really want to eat something that was once used in paint?” The oil companies denature the seeds so much in the heating process that when these oils get into your body, your body just does not know what to do with them and as such they contribute to inflammation and probably predispose people for asthma, not to mention arterial damage.
In an email to me you said, “Asthma is a symptom of inflammation but not a disease.”
If you look around at all the kids and people that have asthma, you will see people who are eating the wrong foods, the wrong oils and living in toxic environments with bad air. In other words, with a lot of those people, if you moved them where the air was clear and you gave them good food, they would probably be rid of their asthma symptoms.
Was there anything else that was important in healing your asthma?
I started drinking triple-filtered reverse-osmosis water. I go to the health-food store once a week and fill my water jars up. I remove the fluoride and chlorine from my diet by doing this. I am not a vegetarian. I think animal products are really important. If you look at the average person who shops at the supermarket, they are never eating anything that is not polluted or bad for them. It’s tragic. No wonder so many people are sick.
If people eat supermarket meat — God help them. If they eat supermarket fish — God help them. The vegetables at supermarkets are sprayed with pesticides and are grown in soil without nutrients. People think they are healthy because they choose foods based on listening to advertisements from the food industry. They have a “healthy”
breakfast cereal which is just a simple carbohydrate. They will have a glass of milk, and do I need to repeat the problems with the milk supply? They will have a glass of juice in the morning. All of this is toxic — it’s simple carbohydrates and it has no nutrients. They will have a sandwich at lunch with lunchmeat that is loaded with preservatives. The amount of preservatives in lunch meat is ridiculous. For dinner they will have pasta or pizza. So, at the end of the day, what have they eaten? Nothing that nourishes them, and that is why people get sick.
There is a book out now called Deep Nutrition. It is about how important vegetables really are and how they do what they do in our bodies. There is a woman, Terry Wahls, who is a doctor at the University of Iowa. She had M.S. and was in a wheelchair. She was not satisfied with the answers that doctors were giving her, so she went and did her own research. Basically, by eating a ton of vegetables, she is now out of her wheelchair. She wrote a book called Minding My Mitochondria. These books are great reading if you want to inspire yourself to stick to your good-food diet.
How did you figure out what would heal your asthma?
By reading books and doing research on the Internet.
Do you attribute any one thing to curing your asthma?
You need to eat the good fats to calm the bad inflammation. You have to get rid of the bad fats, which cause the inflammation, and you have to get rid of the allergens. The cure is in food, fish oils and fats. Get very serious about cleaning up your environment and when you go on vacation, go where the air is clean.
Do you talk to your Western doctor about your approach to healing asthma?
She just looks at me and says, “Good, good for you. Very interesting.” She is not a health nut. She is 50 pounds
overweight. Everyone in the office is. She is interested in what I am finding out. She has a very open mind. She’s the one who showed me the saline rinse for my blocked nasal passages, so I will always love her.
I go to my allergist every year for a checkup. The nurse, who is overweight, tells me that her asthma is not great, but she is keeping it under control. This last time I was there, she told me her daughter’s asthma was really bad. I looked at her and said, “Stop eating wheat and start eating the right fats.” And she said, “Oh, really?” I went a little bit further in describing my diet, and I just watched her eyes glaze over while she completely discounted what I was saying. Someone like this only ha
s faith in the meds.