Dietary recommendations for people with asthma
There are no dietary recommendations for people with asthma, but some studies show that certain foods can support lung function, strengthen the immune system, and reduce asthma symptoms. Some, however, may worsen the symptoms or increase the chances of developing asthma.
Asthma is a very common and chronic condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 25 million people in Trusted Source in the United States have asthma, and children make up about a fifth of that number.
An article in the journal Nutrition Reviews states that asthma is more prevalent among African Americans and low-income people.
This article looks at foods that asthma people may wish to avoid, foods that may improve or prevent symptoms of asthma, and certain lifestyle factors that can help a person manage this chronic illness.
Asthma and diet: What is communication?
Some foods may be better than other people with asthma for several reasons.
Another reason is the nutrients it contains. Antioxidants, which include certain vitamins and minerals, are found in fresh fruit and vegetables. They play the role of a Reliable Source in removing toxins known as free radicals in the body. In this way, they help to reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system.
Some foods contain allergens that can cause other people’s reactions. For example, sulfites are a preservative found in dried fruits and vegetables, salted foods, shrimps, wine, beer, and other products.
Eating too much sulfite can cause asthma in some people, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. People who are allergic to a food may find that eating foods that they are allergic to causes their asthma symptoms.
Obesity can exacerbate a trusted source of asthma symptoms. Staying busy and following a low-fat diet and plenty of fruits and vegetables can help people with asthma to keep their weight in balance.
Other nutrients that may be helpful to people with asthma include:
- vitamin D in foods and supplements
- nutriment C
- vitamin E
- antioxidants, such as selenium and flavonoids
- whole grains
The following sections provide further details on how these nutrients can benefit a person with asthma and what foods they contain.
Vitamin D in foods and supplements
Other evidence suggests that low levels of vitamin D have been linked to increased risk of asthma episodes in children and adults. It also shows that taking a vitamin D supplement daily can significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization due to severe episodes of asthma.
Vitamin D can also support lung function and reduce upper respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold.
Vitamin D comes naturally from only a few reliable sources, so most people in the U.S. get their vitamin D intake from fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals, yogurt, and orange juice.
Other good sources of vitamin D include:
- oily fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
- egg yolks
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Following a healthy, nutritious diet with fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of asthma.
One 2020 article states that several studies have found that excessive consumption of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of adults and children developing asthma.
Also, a 2017 review of a Reliable Source of Over 80 Studies found associations between high fruit and vegetable diets and reduced symptoms of asthma, such as pneumonia.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich sources of antioxidants, such as nutriment C, vitamin E, and beta carotene. This helps the body fight toxins that can damage tissues.
This, in turn, can help improve lung function and control the symptoms of asthma.
Other rich sources of vitamin C include:
- citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit
- kiwi fruit
- red and green peppers
- baked potato
Other good sources of nutriment E include:
- nuts, such as almonds, nuts, and hazelnuts
- sunflower seeds
- fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals, fruit juice, margarine, and spreads
Orange and red fruits and vegetables, among others, contain beta carotene.
Other examples include:
- red and yellow pepper
- dark-leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach
Flavonoids and selenium
Fruits and vegetables also contain antioxidants called flavonoids and selenium, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
Many types of fruit contain flavonoids, including:
Black and green tea also contain flavonoids.
Other foods that contain seleniumReliable source includes:
- dairy products
Whole grains can play a role in reducing the symptoms of asthma.
Another 2018 study found that people who enjoyed a healthy diet, including whole grains, had fewer asthma symptoms and were able to better manage their condition.
- whole oats
- wheat pasta
- bulgur wheat
Foods to avoid
The American Lung Association (ALA) has identified several essential foods, beverages, and other items that people with asthma may wish to avoid as they may be more serious symptoms of the condition.
For example, people may wish to avoid:
- allergens, which can vary between people
- fast food, often overused
The following sections provide further details on how these items may affect people with asthma.
Foods containing sulfites
Sulfites are a type of preservative commonly found in preserved foods and beverages, such as alcohol, salty foods, bottled lemon and lime juice, and dried fruit.
People with asthma who have high levels of sulfite in their diet may find that their symptoms get worse. The ALA warns that foods containing sulfites, especially wine, can cause asthma attacks.
The 2018 Reliable Source article suggests that the use of white wine could lead to intolerance in some people with asthma.
Salicylates are compounds found in tea, coffee, spicy foods, and herbal extracts. Although this is not uncommon, some people with asthma are sensitive to these compounds and may be more likely to develop symptoms.
Two studies from 2015Trusted Source and 2016Trusted Source found that aspirin, which contains salicylate, makes asthma worse in some people.
A 2013 study looking at fast-food consumption among children and adolescents found that those who ate three meals a week or more were at risk for asthma and other health conditions.
Causes to avoid
People with asthma should try to identify and avoid causes that could worsen their symptoms or bring episodes of asthma.
The ALA lists some of the things you should avoid to prevent asthma attacks:
- over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, such as aspirin and non-inflammatory drugs
- common foodborne illnesses, such as peanuts and shellfish
- exposure to smoke, such as cigarette smoke, campfires, or wood-burning stoves
- bad weather, such as storm, wind, cold, or humid weather
- air pollution, smoke, car exhaust fumes, and chemical smoke
- marijuana and saliva from fur or feathers
- natural exposure to dust, mildew, or lead
There is currently no cure for asthma, but most people can control it using a treatment program that includes lifestyle choices, such as avoidance causes, and medications.
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, other medications a doctor may prescribe include:
- Symptomatic medications, such as corticosteroids and beta-agonists are long-acting, taken inhalers or orally.
- nutritional treatment, such as anticholinergics
- Remedies, such as short-acting beta-agonists, are taken with an inhaler
- oral or IV corticosteroids for severe symptoms
- biologics, which are new drugs that may be suitable for some people
Lifestyle tips and signs of prevention
ALA recommends treating asthma immediately, not only with medication but also with avoidance of contagious substances.
Other tips for preventing asthma symptoms include:
- following a treatment plan, keeping an appointment, and taking all medication as prescribed by your doctor
- keeping a record of how and when symptoms appear
- taking steps to identify and avoid food, places, and activities that cause symptoms
to maintain a moderate weight
- to avoid or to quit smoking
- eat low-fat processed foods and fresh fruits and vegetables
2019 Review Reliable Source indicates that a viral infection can also cause asthma symptoms. Taking steps to prevent infection, such as washing hands and getting flu shotguns, can help reduce the risk.
If a person develops asthma, they should try to take the following steps:
- Sit up straight, calm down, and try to breathe slowly and slowly.
- For people with a rescue machine, usually blue, breathe once every 30–60 seconds.
- If symptoms do not improve or the person does not have an inhaler, call emergency services.
- Continue to use the inhaler while waiting for help to come.
Although there is no specific diet to reduce or prevent asthma, there are many foods and beverages that can have a positive or negative effect on asthma symptoms.
Foods rich in fruits and vegetables and processed foods, fatty foods, and fried foods can help a person control their asthma symptoms.
Tracking the causes and symptoms and working with a physician can help people with asthma to manage their condition more effectively.
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