About 7 years ago I rode 50 kms in the Ride for Heart in Toronto, I almost didn’t make it to the Starting Chute, and I nearly didn’t make it to the finish line either. On my first outdoor training ride of the year I suffered what I would later learn was a serious Asthma Attack, it left me head between my knees, sitting at the side of the road, calling my mom for help and a ride home.
I don’t know how long I had had Asthma and Chemical Sensitivities, although I suspect it was quite a few years, its really hard to tell given that I spent much of my 20s overweight and inactive. I can remember taking alternate routes around my University’s campus to avoid climbing the steep double-flight staircase at the front of Student’s Union Building, and as early as the 9th Grade I remember having to switch detergents because I couldn’t breathe if my dress shirts were washed in scented liquid Tide (I now use Tide Free liquid because it’s the only one that passed a multi-brand easy breathing experiment).
Over the past 18 months I have taken (what some would consider drastic) measures to improve my digestional health; first I cut all dairy from my diet (including any foods containing dairy); then, after reading Dr. Travis Stork’s book Lose Your Belly Diet, I switched to a more plant-based diet, and began to only purchase Organic Animal products (eggs and meat) to avoid ingesting unnecessary antibiotics. These steps along with adding a daily Turmeric Supplement – which is also helping reduce sciatica-like pain – have drastically reduced the inflammation not just in my gut but in my overall body.
I went from someone googling “How Do You Know if you have IBS?” to someone who feels great and has a healthy *ahem* bathroom schedule; and, I know its down to the habits I’m building because too much eating out (especially non-organic animal products) and/or too much alcohol can really throw my system out of balance.
In the last few months, I’ve started to notice an additional side affect, one I wasn’t really expecting – although with all the research on how our gut affects our overall health, it shouldn’t be surprising – I’ve started to breathe easier. I’m not “cured” of Asthma, I still carry my puffer (although I haven’t needed it, even outside on hot muggy days), and there are still some chemical smells that I find intolerable – you can and will be asked to “please stay away from me” if you come in covered in Perfume.
There is simply no other explanation for the change, my weight-loss is experiencing an *ahem* plateau, despite much work on New Years (and Mid-Year) Resolutions I haven’t been doing a ton of extra cardio, and nothing in my environment has shifted significantly (I still work in the same place and live in the same place – oh and my home AC probably needs its air-filter changed).
I’m not a doctor, and I’m not going to tell you that you can cure serious respiratory illness with a few more salads; and, I won’t tell you to do something I’m unwilling to do myself, I’m not pitching the inhaler. But, what I am suggesting, is that making shifts that increase your gut health, and reduce inflammatory foods can have benefits far beyond better digestion.