Excluding wheat/dairy - does it make a difference?

I have been reading a lot about how various foods can affect asthma and wondered whether anyone has had any success with an exclusion diet, in controlling symptoms? I know this is very individual but I am willing to try anything and am considering excluding wheat and dairy and seeing whether it helps, as these are meant to be the most common food triggers for people. I've got a book which gives information about how to do this.

I asked the asthma clinic to do skin prick tests but they said no. They don't do foods only common airborne allergens, which I am getting done next time I go.

Has anyone ever excluded foods and found that it helps?

Is it worth getting skin prick tests for food allergies/intolerances privately?

I also don't know how it's possible to identify because there seem to be so many other potential triggers (environmental ones)


9 Replies

  • I've been wheat and citrus free for about 9 years, it doesn't stop everything but I have a few less hospital admissions now and far less ICU addmissions, I still have dairy though. Black coffee helps a bit too if I'm having a wheezy stretch of time (bonfire time mostly!).

    Also I found a clever NLP trick a few years back, if you get a bit wheezy relax your whole body but squeeze your left hand as tight as you can, count to 5 in your head and then starting at your thumb count to 5 again slowly releasing one digit at a time. It sounds absolutely insane but it does seem to help a bit for milder attacks, apparently is something to do with using so many muscles at the same time it confuses the body into letting the lungs relax a bit too.

  • I doubt whether it could improve things as dairy foods such as eggs, cheese and butter are our chief sources of vitamin A (apart from Halibut and Cod liver oil)

    Vitamin A is responsible for the health of the eyes and the lungs.

    Best wishes,


  • I only exclude dairy when I'm poorly. I'm sensitive to it anyway but seems to be worse when I'm not well. I find it really difficult not have dairy on a day-to-day basis as I'm very fussy and deficient in calcium! (Milk, cheese, galaxy choc and ice cream seem to be my main dairy triggers.)

    I was advised to exclude dairy then slowly introduce it back into my diet to see if it was a trigger but I didn't have a allergy test.

    Hope thats of some help, Zippi xxx

  • It is possible to have an intolerance to wheat and dairy, and allergy tests won't necessarily pick this up. I know that I have a long time ago been tested for both of these and do have some issues with it, though not major. I have done food exclusion diets and have experienced no benefit for them. You can give it try, but it isn't straight forward. You really need to exclude everything for about 10 days that you consider might be an issue to give your system a chance to cleanse itself. Then slowly introduce one food stuff at a time and take careful notes including regular PFs to see if there is any difference. This process is going to take at the least several weeks. And then you have to consider any other influences like environmental causes for changes in Asthma. I did my exclusion diet under the guidance of an Asthma Specialist many years ago, even then it was hard going, without any form of back up from a doctor or dietician wonder whether you be able to manage it and take on everything that comes about. I would speak to your respiratory team and see they will give you some support and input for taking on such a diet. Also when going through an exclusion diet you can feel worse for a while because you are not getting certain necessary nutrients. I personally felt really awful and tired whilst going through it, and for me it it make no difference.

  • Thanks for the advice. I'll ask the asthma nurse next time I go. I did mention foods before and she said if you're poorly controlled and lungs are more 'twitchy' than usual then things can trigger you that wouldn't if you are well. She said she thinks that is what might be happening at the moment as I have noticed that I'm worse after certain foods and drinks (wine for definite and as I say, I think dairy) I'll mention an exclusion diet. They have been really good with me so far though so I don't want to push my luck and ask for too much!

    I might try fully excluding it myself for a couple of weeks but as you say, there are so many other trigger factors it can be really hard to identify.

    I just wish there was a simple cause I could eliminate and know everything would be fine.


  • Hi. I've been mildly intolerant of dairy products all my life and have gradually reduced the amount of butter, cheese and milk in my diet. I feel better from the point of view of not having continual bloating and indigestion but, sadly, I don't think it's made any difference to my lungs.

  • I know some people can be quite sensitive to sulphites etc in food. I have realised I'm lactose intolerant at the beginning of this year but have also had the most asthma medication etc so far. So not sure I can say it makes a difference

  • Like you EmC, I also have a definite problem with wine - it gives me stomach ache, as do most of the other salicylates.


  • I have done the exclusion diet in reverse- that is slowly reduced my intake of dairy over the years. I found that milk products, especially butter and cheese, increased my cough and made my sputum taste sour. I haven't drunk milk for about sixteen years (it used to drink it a lot- and lived on cheese sandwiches!). it is impossible to avoid dairy food altogether, so I have goats cheese or feta when when eating out occasionally have a creamy pudding or sauce. Although it isn't harmful, I do notice my cough is worse if I just have butter on toast for example- which is a rare treat!

    Luckily, I can drink wine with no ill effects!

    Up until a few weeks ago I had a boiled egg every morning, but was constantly battling with sinus problems so decided to see what i was like without them. Could be coincidence but my sinus problems really have disappeared- now I have eggs once a week if that and feel much better.

    It does worry me that I'm not getting my calcium, bit I'm on supplements twice a day and now have things like goats yoghurt which I tolerate very well.

    I have cut down my bread intake, although white bread has added calcium I stick to a couple of slices of wholemeal a day. Moderation in all things is the key!

    I think it is all a matter of trial and error, we are all different... good luck

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