Foods That Help Fight Asthma
Asthma may not be curable, but there are steps you can take to better equip your body to cope with the condition. The first step in combating asthma symptoms is making lung health a top priority – and that starts with nutrition.
While there is no bulletproof anti-asthma diet, there are known factors that are positively associated with helping your body cope with asthma symptoms and its triggers. These factors include maintaining a healthy weight, strengthening the immune system, fighting inflammation, avoiding allergens, and increasing intake of antioxidants to aid in fighting the damage caused by free radicals.
While it may be difficult for asthma patients to get the exercise they need – especially for patients affected by exercise-induced asthma, in particular – excess weight has been negatively linked to a higher incidence of asthma. This has been speculated for a number of reasons: greater inflammation throughout the body, weaker immune system, and overall weaker respiratory health. Whatever the exact cause, weight management is critical to overall health and should be made a priority in giving your body its best chance at defending against illness and disease. Respiratory infections, for example, could greatly exacerbate asthma symptoms and prove difficult for asthma patients to overcome.
Moreover, foods which promote immune health or provide strong anti-inflammatory properties have proven effective in reducing the severity of symptoms associated with asthma. Antioxidants are similarly beneficial due to their role in fighting cell damage caused by free radicals, which exacerbate lung inflammation.
Here’s a look at a few nutrients to include in your daily diet to fight asthma symptoms before they begin:
Antioxidants are primarily known for their cancer-fighting benefits: they neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals, which are produced during oxidation. Through preventing cell damage – and resulting inflammation – antioxidants could prove helpful in staving off asthma symptoms. Vitamins C and E have been commonly associated with positive effects for asthma patients.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is instrumental in boosting the immune system and preventing cell damage caused by free radicals released during oxidation. In effect, vitamin C can help reduce lung inflammation associated with cell damage, while boosting the body’s ability to defend against respiratory infection that could exacerbate asthma symptoms.
Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, and grapefruit), and some unexpected sources such as peppers, kale, broccoli, and papaya. Try adding a refreshing citrus shake to your breakfast regimen, or add a colorful salad as a dinner side dish.
Studies suggest that certain flavonoids, such as khellin, have shown success as natural bronchodilators and aid in opening up the airways. Apples are chock-full of beneficial flavonoids: bring a pack of applesauce as an afternoon snack, or try apple slices with peanut butter for a more filling option.
Asthma patients suffer from chronic inflammation of the lungs, making foods with strong anti-inflammatory properties a natural choice to include in the diet. Ginger and turmeric have long been used as effective remedies against inflammation, and can add a powerful punch of flavor to any entree.
Asthma is primarily an allergic disease, making any natural antihistamine useful in warding off allergic reactions. Prominent sources of antihistamines include the antioxidants quercetin and vitamin C. Studies have proven the effectiveness of quercetin in inhibiting the release of histamine in the body, thus preventing allergy symptoms. Quercetin can be found in foods such as onions, apples, and green tea, or can be taken as a supplement.
Beta-carotene is the intense red-orange pigment found in carrots, belonging to the family of carotenoids. Carotenoids supply near 50% of the vitamin A present in your diet. Including more beta-carotene in the diet has been shown to reduce symptoms in patients suffering from exercise-induced asthma, and has also proven effective in preventing bronchitis and similar breathing difficulties.
Caffeine has proved to be an effective bronchodilator, although its respiratory benefits are immediate and short-lived. For a respiratory boost in the morning, start your day with a cup of coffee or your favorite tea for better breathing and mental clarity.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are championed for their role in promoting cognitive development, but also boast anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to reduce the incidence of asthma. Studies have shown that children of women who took fish oil during pregnancy were less likely to develop asthma, and that children who took fish oil for 10 months continuously presented less symptoms than those who didn’t. Fish oil is the greatest source of omega-3 fatty acids, and can be found in pill or gummy supplements.
Foods to Avoid with Asthma
For the same reasons, there are several foods to avoid which may exacerbate or even trigger your asthma symptoms. These include foods which cause inflammation, trigger the release of histamine, exacerbate GERD, increase mucus production in the lungs, or trigger allergic reactions. Many patients also have unknown sensitivities to sulfites, a common preservative.
Asthma Relief with Dr. Shukla
Keep in mind that a nutrient-rich diet is designed to supplement your asthma treatment, not replace it. Be sure to consult your asthma specialist before any significant dietary changes in order to better understand the potential reactions of various nutrients. Remember that asthma cannot be realistically treated without medication.
For expert asthma relief, schedule a consultation with esteemed pulmonologist Dr. Mayank Shukla today to design a specialized treatment plan. Dr. Shukla has over 15 years of outstanding patient satisfaction to his name, and specializes in treating allergy and asthma symptoms in children.