How To Manage Your Asthma With Your Diet

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 28 April 2021

Table of Contents:

 

  1. Asthma and Diet
  2. Asthma and Nutrition
  3. What Should You Eat to Prevent Asthma?
  4. What Affects Asthma Symptoms?

 

 

Asthma and Diet

 

There is no unique diet for asthmatics. There are no foods that we are aware of that alleviate asthmatic airway inflammation. Caffeine-containing beverages offer a small amount of bronchodilation (airway widening) for an hour or two, but using an inhaler is much more effective for relieving asthma symptoms temporarily.

A healthy diet, on the other hand, is an important part of your asthma treatment plan. A healthy diet, just like regular exercise, is beneficial to all. Asthmatics are no exception. Since obesity is related to more severe asthma, you should try to maintain a healthy weight.

In addition, several doctors believe that the diets you eat have a strong impact on your asthma. However, further research is required until scientists are able to pinpoint the exact connection between asthma and diet. You should avoid certain foods if you are allergic to them. Asthma symptoms can be triggered by allergies.

 

Asthma and Nutrition

Asthma has become more prevalent in the United States over the last three decades, and many researchers believe that our changing diets are the reason. Could it be that as we eat less and less fruits and vegetables and more processed foods, our chance of getting asthma rises? Several studies have indicated this, and more are being conducted, but the connection between diet and asthma remains unclear.

People who eat diets rich in vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, flavonoids, magnesium, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids have lower asthma rates. Antioxidants protect cells from damage, and several of these compounds are antioxidants.

Teenagers with insufficient diets were more likely to have asthma symptoms, according to a recent study on asthma and diet. The people who didn’t eat enough fruits and foods rich in vitamins C and E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, were most likely to have poor lung function. Children who grew up following a Mediterranean diet rich in nuts and fruits like grapes, apples, and tomatoes were less prone to have asthma-like symptoms, according to a 2007 study.

However, it’s unclear if these nutrient deficiencies were the source of the asthma. Furthermore, studies attempting to cure asthma with various vitamins and minerals have failed. What is the reason for this? Some researchers believe that the health effects are due to the interaction of various vitamins, minerals, and other antioxidants found naturally in foods. As a result, taking vitamins, minerals, or other food supplements is unlikely to boost your asthma control or avoid symptoms.

We know that good nutrition is important for everyone, particularly people with chronic diseases, regardless of the specific connection between asthma and diet. If you don’t receive enough vitamins and minerals, your body could be more prone to illness and have a tougher time battling respiratory viruses, which may trigger an asthma attack or a serious asthma emergency.

What Should You Eat to Prevent Asthma?

There is no specific asthma diet since the evidence for a correlation between asthma and nutrition is uncertain. However, eating a balanced diet is still a good way to live:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Since it is unclear which fruits and vegetables can help with asthma, the best advice is to eat a variety of them.
  • Eat foods with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines, as well as certain plant sources like flaxseed, are believed to provide a variety of health benefits. While there is no proof that they help with asthma,  however including them in your diet can be beneficial to your overall health.
  • Avoid trans fats and omega-6 fatty acids. There is some evidence that consuming omega-6 fats and trans fats, which are found in some margarines and processed foods, can worsen asthma and other severe health problems like heart disease.

What Affects Asthma Symptoms?

Diet affects asthma in a variety of ways, through good or bad nutrition. These examples are as follows:

  • Diets High in Calories. You can gain weight if you eat more calories than you burn. That’s not only bad for your overall well being, but it’s also bad for your asthma. Obese people are more likely to experience more serious asthma symptoms, take more medication, and miss more work than people who maintain a healthy weight.
  • Food Allergies. Many people have food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance, but they aren’t real allergies, and they very rarely worsen asthma. Real food allergies to milk, meat, shellfish, peanuts, or other ingredients affect only about 2% of adults with asthma. These people can have life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, like bronchospasm, requiring emergency asthma medication, when they are subjected to even small amounts of the foods to which they have been allergic.
  • Preservative Sensitivities. Sulfites, which are used to maintain food fresh and prevent mold growth, can trigger temporary asthma symptoms in a small number of asthmatics. Sulfites can produce sulfur dioxide, which is irritating to the lungs. In the United States, sulfites are no longer added to fresh fruits and vegetables. However, they are still present in a variety of processed foods, as well as condiments, dried fruits, canned vegetables, wine, and other foods.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD). GERD (reflux of stomach acid) affects up to 70% of people with asthma, making it more challenging to manage their condition. Heartburn symptoms aren’t always the result of GERD. You may need to take medication if you have GERD. In most cases, losing weight is all that is needed to get rid of GERD. You can also consider eating smaller meals and avoiding foods that cause GERD symptoms, such as alcohol, caffeine, and any foods. It’s best to not eat close to bedtime.

Even in a minority of patients, there is no proof that excluding all dairy products from the diet increases asthma control. This is a myth that can contribute to osteoporosis, especially in patients who need to take corticosteroids on a regular basis to control their severe asthma.

It’s always a good idea to consult your healthcare provider or an asthma specialist before making any major dietary changes. Your health care provider may have clear recommendations for improving your diet based on your asthma diagnosis, as well as your overall health and the severity of your asthma symptoms.

Sources

Referenced on 18.4.2021

  1. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: “GERD and Asthma;" “Sulfite Sensitivity;" and “Tips to Remember: Asthma Triggers and Management."
  2. American Medical Association, Essential Guide to Asthma, 2000.
  3. News release, American Thoracic Society website.
  4. Freary, J. and Britton, J. Thorax, 2007.
  5. McKeever, T.M. and Britton, J. American journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 2004.
  6. Medscape Medical News: “Mediterranean Diet May Protect Against Childhood Asthma-Like Symptoms and Rhinitis."
  7. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: “Food Allergy: An Overview."
  8. National Jewish Medical and Research Center: “Nutrition and Asthma."
  9. WebMD Medical News: “Poor Diet May Affect Teen Asthma."
  10. https://www.webmd.com/asthma/guide/asthma-diet-what-you-should-know

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