Does Lack of Dietary Fiber and Obesity Cause Asthma?

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The incidence of asthma among Americans has been increasing dramatically. Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP discusses recent research findings that may explain this increase.

With 7.1 million American children suffering from asthma, health care providers must work to develop programs to prevent asthma in high-risk groups.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways which causes chest tightness, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin Chiropractor and Naturopath Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP notes that asthma is poorly understood but is thought to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors, many of which are just beginning to be discovered.

Scientists have become aware that by-products produced by intestinal bacteria determine the overall health or disease of not only the intestinal tract, but the whole body. How this affects inflammation, especially in various organ systems, is poorly understood.

A group of Swiss researchers led by Aurélien Trompette examined how changing the content of fermentable fiber in the diet affects the composition of the intestinal and lung bacterial content, particularly the ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes. It was found that as the intestinal bacteria digests the fiber, there is an increase of short-chain fatty acids in the blood. When a group of mice was fed a high-fiber diet, the increased short-chain fatty acids protected the mice from allergic reactions and inflammation in the lungs. Among the mice on a low-fiber diet, there was a decrease in short-chain fatty acids along with a greater reaction to dust particles. The short-chain fatty acid propionate was found to set off a chain reaction that strengthens the immune system’s response to allergens in the lungs, thereby lowering the occurrence of asthmatic symptoms. The researchers noted that as the average amount of fiber has decreased in the Western diet, the incidence of asthma has increased. Their study was published in the January 2014 issue of Nature Medicine, titled “Gut Microbiota Metabolism of Dietary Fiber Influences Allergic Airway Disease and Hematopoiesis

Dr. Mary Helen Black of Kaiser Permanente, Pasadena, California led a group of researchers that examined the relationship between obesity and the risk of developing asthma in patients between 6 and 19 years old. They examined the health records of 623,358 patients that were enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente Southern California health plan in 2007 through 2011. Youths who were overweight were 1.16 times more likely to develop asthma compared to their normal weight peers. Moderately obese youths were 1.23 times more likely, while extremely obese youths were 1.37 times more likely to develop asthma than normal weight youths. The strongest relationship between obesity and asthma risk was seen among Asian/Pacific Islanders and in girls between 6 and 10 years old. Those youths with asthma who were moderately or extremely obese had more frequent asthma attacks that required emergency room services and/or oral corticosteroid treatment. The researchers concluded that with 7.1 million American children suffering from asthma, health care providers must work to develop programs to prevent asthma in high-risk groups. The results were published in the September 25, 2013 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology titled “Increased Asthma Risk and Asthma-Related Health Care Complications Associated with Childhood Obesity”.

A third study that ties into the above two is “Microbiota-Generated Metabolites Promote Metabolic Benefits via Gut-Brain Neural Circuits” which was published in the January 2014 issue of Cell. A French-Swedish team of researchers led by Gilles Mitheiux found that when intestinal bacteria digest fermentable fibers, they produce short-chain fatty acids which include propionate (which was shown to have beneficial effects in reducing asthma) and butyrate. These short-chain fatty acids also protect against obesity and diabetes by releasing glucose into the blood at a more moderate rate between meals and while asleep. A diet high in fermentable fiber such as beans, cabbage, and most fruits and vegetables can help decrease the risk of acquiring asthma through higher propionate production and by reducing the incidence of obesity.

Using the latest research findings, Moellendorf Chiropractic Office, Ltd. uses a comprehensive package of Chiropractic care, decompression traction therapy, active therapeutic movement training, cold laser therapy, and nutrition for the natural treatment of neurological conditions, neck and back pain, and other health conditions without drugs or surgery. Additional information about Chiropractic, Naturopathy, and other forms of natural health care has been provided by Moellendorf Chiropractic Office, Ltd. at

About: Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP

Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP attended the University of Wisconsin—Superior where he majored in Physics and Mathematics, with a minor in art photography. While attending the University of Minnesota—Minneapolis, he assisted in research on ribosomal proteins. Completing his Chiropractic studies at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, he graduated Cum Laude (with high honors) in 1983. He started Moellendorf Chiropractic Office, Ltd. in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 1983. In 1996, Dr. Moellendorf was awarded his Doctorate in Naturopathy from Trinity School of Natural Health. In 2001, he received Chiropractic’s most prestigious award, the honorary Legion of Chiropractic Philosophers degree, for his thesis “The Workings of Innate Intelligence in Obsessive/Compulsive and Addictive Behaviors.” This paper was chosen for publishing in the book Philosophic Contemplations vol. 2 in 2002. In June of 2012, Dr. Moellendorf authored his first book titled Healthcare’s Best Kept Secret. Dr. Moellendorf can be contacted by phone (920) 493-2126, fax (920) 743-1145, email jgmoellendorf(at)itol(dot)com, his website at, or send a carrier pigeon to 44.84722N and 87.36416W.

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