Can Your Diet Prevent Your Asthma?
The below content is derived from research done using sources available on the internet. Safey Medical Devices Inc and its subsidiaries do not take any responsibility for the accuracy of the content. No medical decision should be taken on the basis of below content without consulting with your Medical Practitioner.
What we eat and drink obviously has a wide range of effects on our health in general. When focusing on a condition like asthma, which affects lung function and increases susceptibility to allergic reactions, we need to be extremely mindful about what we put into our bodies.
For those living with and managing a chronic condition like asthma, there are various factors to bear in mind when attempting to live as healthy a life as possible. Many of these, such as weather and environmental factors, are beyond our control. However, one area where we can definitely influence the effects of an asthma condition is our diet.
There is clear evidence that certain types of foods and drinks can help significantly to enhance an asthma sufferer’s overall health, either by avoiding risk factors or by actively contributing to the wellbeing of the body. The following is a quick tour through some of the most beneficial nutritional groups.
Firstly, to risk stating the obvious, eating fresh, nutritious foods will improve your overall health as well as your asthma symptoms.
Recent research suggests that a shift from eating fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to processed foods could be linked to an increase in asthma cases in recent decades. There is a preponderance of food in the vast majority of developed societies which is actively damaging and dangerous to those with an asthma condition;
- Tinned, frozen or packaged food, which is almost certainly processed in some way.
- Takeaway food and ready-made (‘convenience’) meals, all of which may contain saturated fats, high levels of salt and sugar and additives (e-numbers) whose properties may or may not cause allergic reactions.
It is clear that if we want to actively improve the quality of life for the asthma sufferer, a mindful attitude to nutrition, plus information readily available, is essential.
Moving to specifics, there are certain foods and drinks which actively improve our lung function;
Water is essential for healthy lungs, as dry lungs are prone to irritation. Try to drink between six and eight glasses each day.
Fish high in fat is an excellent choice of food for healthy lungs as they contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids which are linked with lung health.
Apples are the food for adults who want healthy lungs. Apples are effective for adults who want to focus on lung health. Abundant research indicates that good lung function is closely linked to high intakes of vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene, found in citrus fruits, apples, and fruit juices.
Broccoli is a highly antioxidant green vegetable. It is therefore one of the best greens for lung health, especially in individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.
Chicken, turkey, and other small poultry birds can benefit lungs. These foods are high in vitamin A, and certain people’s bodies may absorb animal-based versions of vitamin A better than plant-based versions.
Walnuts are a vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating regular servings of walnuts (around a handful daily) can help to fight asthma and other respiratory conditions.
Beans can also support lung health. Kidney, haricot, butter, red and other beans are excellent sources of antioxidants, which fight off the free radicals that may damage lungs.
Berries are rich in antioxidants, which protect lungs. Acai and blueberry are two of the top sources, but cranberries, grapes, and strawberries are also good for the lungs.
There are many other general food and drink types which can certainly have a positive effect on the asthma sufferer’s health and quality of life;
- Food rich in Vitamin D: such as milk, condensed milk, salmon, orange juice and eggs. This vitamin is especially important during the winter months when sunlight is weak. People with low levels of vitamin D are more susceptible to asthma attacks.
- Vitamin A (Beta Carotene-rich): Eating vegetables, like carrots, broccoli, leafy greens (kale, green cabbage, lettuce) and sweet potatoes can help to strengthen the immune system.
- Food rich in magnesium: food like spinach, pumpkins, pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate can aid in relieving anxiety as well as converting food into energy.
- Fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C: Spinach (which will make you strong as well – a bonus!), broccoli, bell peppers, and kale are good sources of ascorbic acid, too. (Avoid mangoes, as they have been linked to asthma attacks. Go for oranges, strawberries, blueberries, and melons instead, as these neutralize free radicals).
- Food rich in Vitamin E: These include trout and salmon, cooking oils, various nuts peppers. They are abundant in tocopherol, an antioxidant which decreases the risk of asthma symptoms like wheezing and cough.
- Quercetin: This is a plant pigment found in many foods, such as red wine, red onions, apples, red grapes, green tea and berries. It acts as an antioxidant, anti-histamine, and anti-inflammatory agent.
- Herbs: Apart from their culinary use, herbs like rosemary, peppermint, thyme, marjoram, and oregano are dietary sources of romantic acid, which helps to combat reactive airway diseases and allergic disorders.
- Omega-3 Fats: Oily food is normally dangerous and off-limits to an asthmatic. However, Omega-3, the good fat, does have anti-inflammatory properties. Salmon, cod, halibut, flaxseeds, and soy are all sources of this fatty acid.
So, there is no single asthma diet acting as a silver bullet but, as a rule, it is best to eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of variety. That much is common sense;
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. It still isn’t known which fruits and vegetables have a definitive effect on asthma, so it is best to maintain a balanced intake of a wide variety.
- Eat foods with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids — found in fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines (and some plant sources, like flaxseed) are believed to have a number of health benefits. Again, evidence that these help with asthma is not yet definitive (largely due to lack of research), it is still advisable to include them in your diet.
- Eating less salt (sodium) or eating foods rich in oils found in cold-water fish and some nuts and seeds (omega-3 fatty acids) may reduce asthma symptoms. But more research is needed to verify this with hard evidence.
- Avoid trans-fats and omega-6 fatty acids: There’s some evidence that eating omega-6 fats and trans fats, found in some margarines and processed foods, may worsen asthma, and other serious health conditions such as heart disease. Foods and drinks with
- Beware of sulphites (a kind of preservative). Typically found in wines, dried fruits, bottled cherries, prawns and shrimps, bottled citrus drinks and any kind of pickled food (such as onions, gherkins or relishes).
- Be alert to your own body regarding generalised food allergies. The most common allergens include; dairy products, shellfish, wheat and tree nuts
- Take care with large meals or foods that cause gas: These can put pressure on your diaphragm, especially if you have acid reflux (indigestion), which causes the chest to tighten and can trigger asthma attacks.
So, can diet improve your asthma? Clearly, making informed choices about what foods to eat (or avoid) can’t cure asthma. Nevertheless, eating a balanced diet and avoiding food and drink known to trigger symptoms (and often attacks) may enhance your overall health and assist you greatly in managing your condition. So perhaps we can say there is such a thing as an asthma prevention diet, and being mindful about this can improve the quality of your life as a whole.