There is no special diet. We do not know about products that would reduce the inflammatory processes in asthma. Drinks containing caffeine provide bronchodilation for a while, for an hour or two, but taking an inhaler is much more effective in reducing the symptoms of asthma.
However, the right diet is an important part of the daily treatment program. Like regular exercise, and proper nutrition – it is useful for every person. The same is true for asthmatics. Obesity is bad for the symptoms of asthma.
In addition, most doctors suspect that some foods that you eat have some influence on asthma. But further research is needed to determine the relationship between asthma and nutrition.
Asthma and Food
The incidence of asthma in the modern world has significantly increased over the past three decades and most scientists believe that this is due to the change in our diet. Since people have become less and less eating fruits and vegetables, and more processed foods, is this possibly due to an increased risk of developing asthma? Some recent studies have proven this, others have refuted, but the exact relationship between nutrition and asthma has not been found.
There is evidence that people whose nutrition is rich in vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, flavonoids, magnesium, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids, are less likely to have asthma. Most of these substances are antioxidants that protect cells from damage.
A recent study showed that in adolescents with poor diet, the symptoms of asthma worsen much more often. Those who have low in fruit and vegetables with vitamins C and E, omega-3 fatty acids, lungs work much worse. A 2007 study showed that children who grew up on Mediterranean food – many nuts and fruits, such as grapes, apples, tomatoes – were less prone to asthma symptoms.
However, it is not completely clear that the lack of these products can actually cause asthma exacerbation. And studies that used various vitamins and minerals to treat asthma, were unsuccessful. Why? Some researchers believe that there is interaction between the various vitamins, minerals and other antioxidants that occur in foods. Therefore, it is unlikely that taking vitamins, minerals and other nutritional supplements will improve asthma control and prevent exacerbation of symptoms.
Despite the specific relationship between asthma and nutrition, we know for sure that proper nutrition is very important for each of us, especially for people with chronic diseases. If the body does not receive enough nutrients, it becomes more vulnerable to disease and it is more difficult to deal with respiratory viruses that often cause an asthma attack or the need for hospitalization.
Asthma and food: what should you eat?
Although, as mentioned above, there is vague evidence of the relationship between asthma and nutrition, but there are several helpful tips on what to put on your plate:
- There are more fruits and vegetables . It is still unknown what fruits and vegetables affect asthma, so the best advice is to add them to your diet. Honestly, all people should eat as much fruit and vegetables as possible.
- There are foods with a high content of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines, and certain plant species, for example, flax seeds) have an incredible number of benefits. Although, their positive effect on asthma is not proven accurately, but still it will not be superfluous to include them in your diet.
- Avoid hydrogenated fat and omega-6 fatty acids. It has been proven that omega-6 fatty acids and hydrogenated fat, found in some types of margarine and processed foods, exacerbate the symptoms of asthma. In addition, they increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, so this is another reason to avoid them in their diet.
Will our advice help? We are not sure about this. Although we do not know what vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can help with the symptoms of asthma, but even so, it does not hurt anyone to eat more fruits, vegetables and (in moderate amounts) healthy fats.
Asthma and food: what else affects the symptoms of asthma?
Nutrition – bad or good – is not the only way that affects asthma. Here are some more examples:
- Increased calorie intake. If you consume more calories than burn them, you gain weight. This is bad not only for the general condition of the body, but also for the condition of asthma especially. People with obesity experience more severe asthma symptoms, take more medications, and often miss work.
- Food allergy. Most people suffer from intolerance to certain foods (eg lactose intolerance), but it is not an allergy and rarely causes asthma worsening. Only 2% of adults are asthmatics who are really allergic to milk, eggs, seafood, nuts and other foods. Having eaten even a small amount of an allergen product, an anaphylactic attack, including bronchospasm, may occur, which requires immediate medication.
There is no evidence that removing all the dairy products from the diet will improve asthma control. It’s just “women’s gossip.” The lack of dairy products can lead to osteoporosis, especially in patients who regularly take corticosteroids for the treatment of asthma.
- Sensitivity to preservatives. Sulfites, which keep fish fresh and kill mold, can cause temporary asthma symptoms in some asthmatics. Sulphites can form sulfur dioxide, which strongly irritates the lungs. Sulphites are no longer added to vegetables and fruits, but are still used in the processing of certain products and can be contained in seasonings, dried fruits, dried vegetables, wine and other products.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Up to 70% of all asthmatics also suffer from GERD (acid reflux), which makes it difficult to treat asthma. Sometimes, GERD is not accompanied by typical symptoms of heartburn. If you have GERB, then you need to take medicine. Often, reducing the symptoms of GERD requires only weight reduction. Try to eat smaller portions, give up alcohol, caffeine and other foods that can exacerbate the symptoms of GERD. It is also not recommended to eat before going to bed.
Before you completely change your eating habits, it is better to first talk with your doctor. Depending on the diagnosis (from the general state of health and the severity of asthma), the doctor will give you good advice on what to improve in your diet.