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Asthma and Diet: What's the Connection?

As the old adage goes, you are what you eat. If you have asthma, you might be wondering how certain foods and diet choices could affect your condition. Although there’s no conclusive evidence that any specific diet plan affects asthma symptoms, some foods and lifestyle choices may help you manage your condition. 

OPTIMAL ASTHMA DIET

Eating a nutritious and varied diet can improve your overall health and may improve your asthma symptoms. According to the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC), an increase in the consumption of processed foods could be linked to a rise in asthma cases. 

In addition, a study by the American Thoracic Society (ATS) highlighted obesity as a risk factor for developing asthma, as well as being linked to more severe asthma symptoms.

Although there's little evidence to suggest any single food or nutrient can improve asthma symptoms on its own, studies do indicate that eating a nutritious diet high with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables could benefit people with asthma. 

However, it's important to note that there is a direct link between food allergies and intolerances and asthma symptoms. This is due to an overreaction of the immune system when exposed to specific allergens. If you have known food allergies, it's crucial that you avoid them in order to reduce the likelihood of having an asthma attack. 

ASTHMA-FRIENDLY NUTRIENTS

If you're looking to eat a diet rich in asthma-friendly nutrients and food, here is a list of some that could be beneficial.

 

Plate of Food For a Diet Rich in Asthma-friendly Nutrients

 

VITAMIN A 

According to a 2018 asthma study, children with asthma tend to have lower levels of vitamin A than children without asthma. In addition, higher levels of vitamin A were also linked to better lung function in children with asthma. 

If you'd like to increase your Vitamin A levels, opt for fresh fruit and vegetables such as carrots, cantaloupe melon, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. 

VITAMIN D 

Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common in the U.S.; however, a Cochrane review found that this fat-soluble vitamin could help reduce the frequency of asthma attacks. This may be because Vitamin D has been found to help fight upper respiratory infections that are known to exacerbate asthma symptoms. 

Good sources of vitamin D include milk, eggs, salmon and fortified orange juice.

 

Plate of Vitamin D Rich Foods That Help Fight Upper Respiratory Infections

 

MAGNESIUM 

Low magnesium levels in children have been linked to reduced lung flow and volume. In fact, magnesium can also be used to treat asthma symptoms, as it relaxes the bronchial muscles and helps to expand the airways. 

If you'd like to improve your magnesium levels, you should eat foods such as spinach, salmon, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate.  

THE BOTTOM LINE

Eating a nutritious and healthy diet could improve your asthma symptoms; however, there are many other factors to consider. It's crucial to continue to take your asthma medication as prescribed by your doctor and discuss any diet changes you plan to make with your healthcare provider.