People with asthma may be very curious to know if foods and diet choices could really help them manage their condition. However, there’s no definite evidence that a specific diet plan can help mitigate the frequency or severity of asthma attacks.
At the same time, consuming fresh, and nutrient-dense foods may optimize your overall health as well as ease symptoms of asthma. Several pieces of evidence have disclosed that a shift from eating natural foods to processed foods may be associated with an increase in asthma episodes. Studies have also found that there’s no single food or nutrient that can improve asthma symptoms on its own. But people suffering from asthma may benefit from eating a well-balanced diet laden with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Read this article to get an overview of asthma dietary management and food triggers to avoid.
Asthma And Diet
Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects people in all age groups. It is very important for people suffering from asthma to eat a healthy diet and manage their condition. With the changing eating habits and most people preferring processed and junk foods, these are considered as one of the triggering factors for the risk of developing asthma.
Food holds a key role in maintaining overall health. It is true for people with asthma as well, as food also has a link to allergies. Food intolerance and allergies develop when the immune system overreacts to specific proteins in foods. In a few cases, this can trigger asthma symptoms. However, specific food limitations can aid you to control asthma and improve health.
Certain foods may be beneficial for some people with asthma. Fruits and vegetables packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals help in eliminating free radicals from the system, which supports lessening inflammation and trigger the immune system.
Plant-based diet emphasis on including plenty of fresh produce and whole grains that are beneficial for asthma. Furthermore, restricting dairy and high-fat meats can help avert asthma and ease its symptoms. Evidence also supports that whole, nutrient-dense diet rich in vegetables and fruits is the key to recovery and aid in sustaining healthy body weight.
Asthma And Obesity
Obesity is considered a major risk factor for developing asthma. Also, obese people with asthma may experience more severe symptoms and it is difficult to treat. Eating a wholesome and balanced diet and maintaining weight may control the condition in obese persons.
Foods To Include In The Diet
Well, there’s no specific diet recommended for treating asthma, but there are a few foods and nutrients that hold a vital role in promoting lung health and function.
Getting adequate vitamin D may support reducing the severity of asthma episodes in children. Some of the food sources abundant in vitamin D include:
- Milk and fortified milk
- Fortified orange juice
If you are allergic to milk or eggs, then avoid them as a source of vitamin D. As allergic symptoms from a food source can establish as asthma.
Studies have revealed that children with asthma usually had lower levels of vitamin A than those without asthma. Also, good levels of vitamin A in children are linked to better lung health and function. Food sources rich in vitamin A includes:
- Sweet potatoes
- Leafy green vegetables
Apples: Studies strongly reveal that an apple a day can keep asthma at bay. As per the Nutrition Journal article, apples were linked with a lower risk of asthma and improve lung health.
Bananas: Bananas are well-known to lessen the intensity of wheezing in children with asthma. This is credited to the potent antioxidant and high potassium content of bananas, which may enhance lung function.
Magnesium Rich Foods
A study published in the Journal of American Epidemiology revealed that children between 11 to 19 years who had low magnesium levels had low lung flow and volume. Further, some studies disclosed that magnesium supplements lower inflammation, relax the bronchial muscles and let air leave the lungs. Thus, adding food rich in magnesium may help to improve lung health and ease symptoms of asthma, these include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Swiss chard
- Dark chocolate
Also inhaling magnesium via a nebulizer is found to be another ideal way to combat asthma attacks.
Whole grains are laden with good sources of complex carbs and dietary fibre that help in alleviating the symptoms of asthma. Evidence has also revealed that people who consumed a balanced diet rich in whole-grain cereals had lesser asthma symptoms and better asthma control. Some of the whole-grain sources include:
- Bread, crackers, or pasta made from whole wheat
- Rice (brown)
Tocopherol, the strong antioxidant compound in vitamin E, combat free radical damage. It also helps in lessening the symptoms of asthma like wheezing and coughing. Some of the food sources abundant in vitamin E include:
- Mustard greens
Foods To Avoid
Some foods are known to trigger asthma symptoms and it is best to avoid them. However, consult your physician before eliminating certain foods from your meal plan.
Sulfites are chemicals, which are a type of preservative added to many foods. This substance may worsen asthma symptoms. Sulfites are found in:
- Dried fruits
- Pickled food
- Bottled lemon and lime juice
Foods That Cause Gas
Eating heavy meals or foods that cause gas will put extra pressure on your diaphragm, especially if a person suffers from acid reflux. This may cause chest discomfort, heaviness, and flare asthma attacks These foods include:
- Carbonated drinks
- Fried foods
Some people with asthma may be sensitive to salicylates found in coffee, tea, and a few herbs and spices, but it is rarely observed. Salicylates are naturally occurring chemical compounds and are sometimes found in certain foods.
Chemical preservatives, flavourings, and colouring agents are commonly found in fast and processed food. A few people with asthma may be sensitive or allergic to these artificial ingredients.
People with food allergies may be asthmatic, the most common food allergens include:
- Dairy products
- Tree nuts
Eating a balanced and wholesome diet may help ease symptoms of asthma, but it also depends on several factors. The overall impact may depend on a person's general health status, how regular you are in making modifications, and the severity of the symptoms. Nevertheless, people who start adopting a healthier diet and mindful eating habits usually observe improved energy levels and good health status. Additionally, consuming a healthier diet may offer other benefits like weight loss, better digestion, and a robust immune system.