Asthma and Your Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid

Asthma and diet: What’s the connection?
If you have asthma, you may be curious about whether certain foods and diet choices could help you manage your condition. There’s no conclusive evidence that a specific diet has an effect on the frequency or severity of asthma attacks.

Eating fresh, nutritious foods may improve your overall health as well as your asthma symptoms.

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on

According to research in some research, a shift from eating fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to processed foods may be linked to an increase in asthma cases in recent decades. Although more study is needed, early evidence suggests that there’s no single food or nutrient that improves asthma symptoms on its own. Instead, people with asthma may benefit from eating a well-rounded diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Food also comes into play as it relates to allergies. Food allergies and food intolerances occur when your immune system overreacts to specific proteins in foods. In some cases, this can result in asthma symptoms.

Asthma and obesity
An American Thoracic Society (ATS) report notes that obesity is a major risk factor for developing asthma. In addition, asthma in people who are obese may be more severe and more difficult to treat. Eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight may make it easier to manage your condition.

Foods to ADD
• Vitamin D-rich foods, such as milk and eggs
• Beta carotene-rich vegetables, such as carrots and leafy greens
• Magnesium-rich foods, such as spinach and pumpkin seeds
There’s no specific diet recommended for asthma, but there are some foods and nutrients that may help support lung function:

Vitamin D
Getting enough vitamin D may help reduce the number of asthma attacks in children ages 6 to 15, according to the Vitamin D Council. Sources of vitamin D include:
• salmon
• milk and fortified milk
• fortified orange juice
• eggs
If you know you have allergies to milk or eggs, you may want to avoid them as a source of vitamin D. Allergic symptoms from a food source can manifest as asthma.

Vitamin A
A 2018 study found that children with asthma typically had lower levels of vitamin A in their blood than children without asthma. In children with asthma, higher levels of vitamin A also corresponded to better lung function. Good sources of vitamin A are:
• carrots
• cantaloupe
• sweet potatoes
• leafy greens, such as romaine lettuce, kale, and spinach
• broccoli

An apple a day may keep asthma away. According to a research review article in Nutrition Journal, apples were associated with a lower risk of asthma and increased lung function.

A survey published in the European Respiratory Journal found that bananas might decrease wheezing in children with asthma. This may be due to the fruit’s antioxidant and potassium content, which may improve lung function.

A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that children ages 11 to 19 who had low magnesium levels also had low lung flow and volume. Kids can improve their magnesium levels by eating magnesium-rich foods such as:
• spinach
• pumpkin seeds
• Swiss chard
• dark chocolate
• salmon

Foods to AVOID
• Sulfites, which are found in wine and dried fruits
• Foods that can cause gas, including beans, cabbage, and onions
• Artificial ingredients, such as chemical preservatives or other flavorings
Some foods may trigger asthma symptoms and should be avoided. However, it’s best to consult your doctor before you start eliminating certain foods from your diet.

Sulfites or Preservatives
These are found in:
• wine
• dried fruits
• pickled food
• maraschino cherries
• shrimp
• bottled lemon and lime juice

Foods that cause gas
Eating large meals or foods that cause gas will put pressure on your diaphragm, especially if you have acid reflux. This may cause chest tightness and trigger asthma flares. These foods include:
• beans
• cabbage
• carbonated drinks
• onions
• garlic
• fried foods

Artificial ingredients
Chemical preservatives, flavorings, and colorings are often found in processed and fast food. Some people with asthma may be sensitive or allergic to these artificial ingredients.

Common allergens
People with food allergies may also have asthma. The most common allergens include:
• dairy products
• shellfish
• wheat
• tree nuts

Most doctors recommend an overall healthy lifestyle to help you manage your condition. This can include eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Diet and lifestyle changes are meant to complement your existing asthma treatment. You shouldn’t stop using prescribed asthma medications without consulting your doctor, even if you begin to feel better.

For more information on how to manage your diet and your family’s nutrition, go to Kruza Nutrition.

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