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Asthma Severity Reduction After 30 Days on a “Paleolithic Diet”

Day 29 – Sunday January 29
Workout: squats 135×5, 155×5, 175×5
Post-Workout: guacamole and bacon omelet, sweet potato
Dinner: smoked turkey breast, collard greens
Future baby chickens consumed: 6 (114 total)

Sweet potatoes consumed: 1 (25.5 total)
Inhaler puffs: 0 (2 in last 7 days)

Day 30 – Monday January 30
Lunch: egg bacon and spinach salad, pineapple chunks
Snack: salmon filet, rutabaga puree (see below)
Dinner: slow-cooked pork shoulder, collard greens, tequila
Future baby chickens consumed: 2 (116 total)

Sweet potatoes consumed: 0 (24.5 total)
Inhaler puffs: 0 (2 in last 7 days)


Objective: This study is a case report of a 31-year-old man with history of moderate persistent asthma since age 7 who adhered to a low-allergen diet (no grain products, dairy products, soy products, or processed sugars) also known as the “Paleo(lithic) Diet” or “Hunter-Gatherer Diet” for thirty days, and tracked his daily use of an inhaled beta-agonist, or rescue, inhaler.

Methods: The subject tallied the number of albuterol doses he used on daily basis, starting from 6 days prior to initiating the Paleo Diet. He continued to track his daily albuterol use on a personal spreadsheet and on a public blog, on which he also posted his meals for the day. No “controller medications”, including inhaled/systemic corticosteroids, leukotriene inhibitors, or long-acting beta-agonists, were used by the patient during the 36-day data collection period.

Results: In the week prior to initiation of the diet, the subject averaged 1.42 albuterol puffs/day (averaged over the previous seven days). After one week of being on the Paleo diet, the number decreased to 0.57 puffs/day. During weeks three and four on the Paleo diet, the daily average plateaued to between 0.14-0.29 puffs/day. Exercise type and frequency, as well as exposure to known triggers (dust, cat dander, cigarette smoke), remained consistent before and during the test period.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated a significant reduction in rescue inhaler use in a subject with chronic asthma, improving the subject’s NHLBI asthma classification from moderate persistent to mild persistent. This suggests that food allergens may be a significant trigger to a yet-unclassified subset of adult patients with persistent asthma.

So that was fun. Probably unpublishable, and I doubt most asthmatics would put in this much dietary legwork to reduce their symptoms (for a larger study), but who knows? Also, I wonder if the IRB would require me to consent myself for a study. And how do I double-blind myself? With a sharp stick?

Okay, let’s look back at my goals for the past month on Paleo, and how I did with them:

182 – starting weight
– 179 on the old scale this morning, which isn’t bad at all. I didn’t want to get as thin as I was during my first go-around with Paleo.

17.6 – my body fat percentage, based on an average of a few semi-accurate methods (calipers, tape measurements, the Virgin Health Miles machine at the hospital)
– Down to 16% even.

5 – pounds I wouldn’t mind losing
– Before, I had 150lb lean body mass and 32 lb fat. Now, 150.5 lb lean body mass and 28.5 lb fat. So I lost 3.5 pounds of body fat, which I’m pretty thrilled about.

150 – pounds of lean body mass, also my goal grams of protein per day
– I did fairly well with eating enough protein this month. The number of total calories? Not as good. This will improve over the next few weeks, once I start adding in some starches and getting to about 100g per day from sweet potatoes / rice / root veggies alone.

100 – number of eggs I anticipate eating this month
– Beat that by a bunch.

50 – number of sweet potatoes I anticipate eating this month
– Yeowch. Not even close.

7 – goal hours of sleep a night
– Again, pretty good. I had a few nights of 4-5 hours, and a few more nights of 9-10.

0 – times I would like to use my inhaler over the last week of this challenge
– I came close. I haven’t had a 2-puff day since the 3rd, or a 3-puff week since the 18th.

(Because *nothing* says love like unsweetened organic carob chips.)

“at least 30” – days I plan to stay strict with the Paleo Diet, to which the girl responded, “There’s no way we’re eating some Paleo chocolate substitute on Valentine’s Day.” Actually, that sounds like the perfect day/weekend to finish the challenge.
– Actually, Super Bowl Sunday (with the promise of cheese-covered beer-flavored chili and assorted queso dips) sounds like the perfect day. And yes, I will eat chocolate on V-Day. And expensive cheeses. Maybe even some overpriced potatoes. But definitely not bread.



4 thoughts on “Asthma Severity Reduction After 30 Days on a “Paleolithic Diet”

  1. That’s AMAZING! I’d like to see the long LONG term study too :-)

    Posted by barefootandprimal | January 31, 2012, 11:01 pm
  2. Amazing information. I know that this is just anecdotal evidence, but I found that my asthma improved after following the primal/paleo diet – I still eat dairy. My migraines disappeared as well as some arthritis symptoms. I was shocked!

    Posted by lowcarbcookery | February 1, 2012, 4:56 am
  3. Thank you for this! This is detailed information I was hoping to find regarding Paleo/asthma benefits, especially the information about the reduction of use of Albuterol. I will proceed with my effort to get to 30 days Paleo and hope I fair as well. I appreciate all you effort to document your improvements.

    Posted by Bijoubug | September 9, 2012, 9:10 pm
    • Thanks! It’s been pretty tough to sustain, just because I don’t have the best long-term willpower, but I’m glad I was able to do the experiment. All the more evidence that food can trigger a body-wide inflammatory response that works in different ways for different people. When I was on a strict Paleo Diet, not only did my asthma melt away, but my lifelong allergies (perfume, dust, cats) were blunted.

      Good luck with your month! The more data and anecdotal evidence we have, the more people can be helped and the more we can influence ease/affordability of the Paleo/Primal Diet.

      Posted by cortisolfiles | September 10, 2012, 4:05 pm

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