Dear Mark: Exercise-Induced Asthma, CBD for Diabetes, Warm-ups In the Morning

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from readers. First, what’s the deal with exercise-induced asthma? Is there anything we can do to lessen its impact and incidence? Second, is CBD oil helpful for diabetics? And finally, do bodyweight exercises always require warm-ups? What about workouts in general—do you need to warm-up before every single session?

Let’s find out:

The first question comes from Caue Cavallaro:

since you are the go-to person when it’s about health, for me, do you have any material related to exercise induced asthma? I had it every now and then but since I started training for triathlon it’s happening more often. Thank you!

This is a classic response. When I was doing triathlon (and training others in the sport), exercise-induced asthma was incredibly common. These were some of the fittest people on the planet, and yet they were wheezing and coughing like they were completely out of shape.

The common denominator was inflammation and oxidative stress. Back then, most of us didn’t know anything about either—and we were loading our bodies with tons of both. Anything you can do to reduce excess inflammation and oxidative stress in a healthy, sustainable manner will help.

First and foremost, how are you training? I’d really consider getting your hands on Primal Endurance or reading this post. The quick and dirty version is that to train the aerobic pathway, you have to go easier and slower than you think. Take 180 and subtract your age. That’s your target heart rate. Stay under it to remain aerobic. You’ll go so slow and so easy that it won’t even feel like you’re training. This will increase how fast you can go while remaining in the aerobic fat-burning zone, and it will limit your tendency to overtrain. Overtraining is the primary reason for exercise-induced asthma because when you overtrain, you’re heaping excessive inflammation and oxidative stress on your system. And you’re doing it every single time you train.

This “easier” style of endurance training is totally applicable to triathlon. Spend a good month or so (longer for most, but you’re probably reasonably fit and ahead of the game) focusing on that for the bulk of your training, building that aerobic base. Pepper in some more intense stuff, some “race pace” running/swimming/biking, some strength training and sprints.

How are you eating? Too many seed oils high in omega-6 fats and too many refined carbohydrates (to support the overtraining, of course) will tilt the balance toward inflammation and oxidative stress. Switch over to more saturated and monounsaturated fat sources, like butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil. Be sure to eat fatty fish or take fish oil to balance out your omega-3:omega-6 ratio. Eat fewer carbs, and even consider going keto to enhance your fat-adaptation. The low carb approach goes hand in hand with training easier in the aerobic zone, as it demands less carbohydrate.

You’ll want to support your glutathione production with whey protein, raw dairy, and NAC supplements. Glutathione is the body’s premier in-house antioxidant. We most famously use it to detoxify harmful substances like alcohol and reduce oxidative stress, but glutathione also combines with nitric oxide to become a potent bronchodilator called nitrosoglutathione. Bronchodilators open up the airways and facilitate air flow. Having inadequate glutathione can impair your production of nitrosoglutathione and make your asthma worse—or trigger it.

Choline can help. Studies have shown that getting some extra choline reduces the airway inflammation and oxidative stress in people with asthma. You can take a choline supplement or eat a few egg yolks each day.

Good luck!

Regarding CBD/hemp oil, Carmen asked:

Is there oil for diabetics??

They’ve actually looked at CBD for diabetics. In animal studies, it reduces the incidence of diabetes and shows promise against diabetic complications like high glucose-induced endothelial dysfunction.

But the only human study was a bit of a dud. It compared CBD alone, CBD with THC, and THC alone in people with type 2 diabetes. Only the THC alone improved blood sugar, pancreatic beta cell function, and lipid numbers. CBD was ineffective, if harmless.

When you say, as soon as you wake up, do a quick superset of pushups – doesn’t it require a warm-up session beforehand? Can you really do them right away, as soon as you get out of bed? Is a warm-up not always essential?

I mean, you don’t have to do them right away. I can definitely see an argument for brushing the teeth and having some coffee first. For waking up a bit to get the most out of your workout. But if you work out on a regular basis and have a good base level of strength—which our commenter seems to have—you should be able to do basic bodyweight exercises without much of a warm-up.

If pushups are a major effort for a particular person, then a warm-up is a good idea.

As for the essentiality of warm-ups in general? Warm-ups become necessary when we stop moving for most of the day and do a big workout a few times a week. Warm-ups are necessary when we sit for 10 hours a day, using terrible posture the entire time. Warm-ups are important if you’re going really hard, really intense, and really heavy (think a big CrossFit WOD, a set of heavy deadlifts, or something similar). Warm-ups aren’t as essential if you make your entire lifestyle a movement session.

Thanks for reading, everyone. If you have any comments, input, or questions, leave it down below!

Take care.


Mehta AK, Singh BP, Arora N, Gaur SN. Choline attenuates immune inflammation and suppresses oxidative stress in patients with asthma. Immunobiology. 2010;215(7):527-34.

Weiss L, Zeira M, Reich S, et al. Cannabidiol arrests onset of autoimmune diabetes in NOD mice. Neuropharmacology. 2008;54(1):244-9.

Rajesh M, Mukhopadhyay P, Bátkai S, et al. Cannabidiol attenuates high glucose-induced endothelial cell inflammatory response and barrier disruption. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2007;293(1):H610-9.

Jadoon KA, Ratcliffe SH, Barrett DA, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabivarin on Glycemic and Lipid Parameters in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel Group Pilot Study. Diabetes Care. 2016;39(10):1777-86.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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9 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Exercise-Induced Asthma, CBD for Diabetes, Warm-ups In the Morning”

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  1. I’m really interested in your asthma advice. I have asthma and exercise (I ride my bike to/from work 4 days/week, comfortable pace) makes it worse. I can say that the couple of times I did the Whole30 challenge my asthma all but went away. Wondering if you might consider doing a “Guide to Raw Dairy” as that piece has me most interested. Thanks.

  2. I’m so glad to hear the question answered about Exercise Induced Asthma! When I was very early in my exercise journey this was a huge problem for me. I ended up going to the doctor and got an inhaler to use along with exercise (it was mainly running that caused it). Then, it all but went away. I took a break from intense exercise for six months while I was nursing bad headaches and migraines (worked with a chiropractor to get those under control) and now that I’m training consistently again, I’m experiencing the asthma again. The advice about reducing inflammation and giving my body breaks in between harder sessions is really helpful! Also to know that I’m not alone. Thanks for addressing this one!

  3. When I first wake up my muscles are about as loose and warm as they get all day since I’ve not yet had time to tense up and I just climbed out from under my comforter.

  4. My mild asthma and seasonal allergies disappeared when I gave up dairy. I suppose I could try raw dairy, but I’d rather not mess with something that works for me.

  5. Dear Mark! thank you so much for addressing my question on Dear Mark, it’s good to have a reply from one of my idols that helped me so much on changing my lifestyle!
    I started reading your blog when I participated in a research which showed my BP to be higher than expected and I decided to lose weight. I came from 98Kg to 76 in just 4 months, only by reading (or devouring) your information!
    Today I’m 73kg, body fat 11% and ready for the Triathlon competitions!
    Back to my Exercise Induced Asthma, since I posted on twitter, I started controlling my trainings to fit under the primal endurance guidelines (excellent book by the way, another Kudos for you!). By comparing the data on my HR monitor with my breathing, I can say that if I can easily breath in through my nose, my heart rate is near the upper limit of the endurance HR (around 75-80%). It helped a lot, but I noticed that when I’m too close to big streets (I work in central London and commute either running or biking, so I can’t go much away of air pollution) I still have the short of breath feeling, but then I just slow down a bit and it goes away.
    About my diet, I follow a “90%” carnivore diet, eating meat/organs/cheese/eggs and just some leaves on dinner, and I eat “keto” on heavy training days – like brick days. I’m probably lacking on fish, since white fish makes a mess in my stomach so I only eat Trout and Salmon every now and then.

    I’m just curious to see something regarding “Raw Dairy”, does cured cheese falls under this category (Cheddar, Leicester, Manchego, etc)? or would be only soft cheeses, milk and cream?

    Once again, thank you very much, you are my idol!

  6. Someone told me that turmeric was a really good treatment for his asthma. A quick search shows the home remedy sites agree, with other suggestions.

  7. Thank you for addressing exercise induced asthma… My daughter suffered from it when she was younger. I will share this information with her.

  8. Thank you for taking the time to reply to my question about warm-ups, Mark – much appreciated!