Although there is no specific asthma diet to relieve symptoms, eating whole, nutrient-rich foods can help you maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight can worsen asthma symptoms, so taking steps to eat a balanced diet may help with your condition.
It is recommended to eat nutrient-rich foods with a high content of vitamin D, fruits and vegetables, while junk foods and foods that cause gas should be avoided.
This article will discuss the best foods you can eat as part of your comprehensive asthma treatment plan. lt will also discuss foods to limit and avoid.
What is the effect of diet on asthma symptoms?
Eating a healthy, balanced diet with the right foods and nutrients can improve your overall health, including the health of your lungs.
Furthermore, research shows that a Mediterranean diet rich in fish, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can help reduce asthma symptoms or prevent the condition altogether.
Plant-based diets that focus on fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while limiting high-fat dairy and meat intake can also protect against the development of asthma and improve asthma symptoms.
These foods are rich in compounds and antioxidants that can fight the inflammation and oxidation caused by the toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis.
food to eat
Although there is no specific food or diet for asthma to improve asthma symptoms, it is essential to eat a balanced diet as an essential part of your treatment plan. In general, the best asthma diet includes eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, and foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and magnesium.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
If you’re looking for a way to improve your diet while living with asthma, incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables is a great place to start. Not only are they low in calories to promote a healthy weight, but they also contain essential nutrients that can support healthy lung function.
Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, and studies have shown that diets rich in fruits and vegetables, especially apples and oranges, can reduce the risk of developing asthma and reduce wheezing.
Bananas may also reduce the incidence of wheezing in children due to their antioxidant and potassium content, which can improve lung function.
Other important fruits and vegetables to include in your diet include broccoli, berries, leafy greens, watermelon, and avocado.
Vitamin A, also known as carotenoids, may improve lung function in adults and children. With its powerful antioxidant properties, vitamin A can help fight oxidative stress and support a healthy immune system.
Studies show that eating large amounts of foods rich in vitamin A such as tomatoes, carrots and leafy green vegetables can improve lung function and reduce asthma attacks in adults.
Vitamin D supports a healthy immune system and can reduce airway inflammation. Studies also show that vitamin D supplementation may reduce the rate of asthma attacks that require treatment with corticosteroids.
In addition to adequate sun exposure, foods such as salmon and fortified dairy products or dairy alternatives are rich in vitamin D.
Vitamin E contains a compound called tocopherol that acts as a powerful antioxidant. It can also reduce asthma symptoms such as wheezing and coughing.
Good sources of vitamin E include nuts, mustard greens, broccoli, and kale.
Foods rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants can protect your cells from damage and support healthy lungs.
Foods rich in antioxidants include:
- dark chocolate
- goji berries
- red cabbage
In recent years, a growing body of evidence has emerged to support the use of magnesium supplements to reduce inflammation and relax the muscles of the airways to allow air to leave the lungs.
Magnesium-rich foods include:
- pumpkin seeds
- dark chocolate
- Low-fat dairy products
Eating whole grains can reduce symptoms associated with asthma. One study published in 2018 found that people who ate an overall healthy diet rich in whole grains had fewer asthma symptoms and greater asthma control overall.
Good sources of whole grains include:
- Whole wheat bread, crackers or pasta
- brown rice
- black wheat
Additional foods to eat
Other important foods to eat include:
- Healthy fats like olive oil, seeds, and fatty fish
Foods to avoid
According to the American Lung Association, there are certain foods and chemicals found in foods that should be avoided because they may exacerbate asthma symptoms. It’s also important to keep in mind that food allergens and restrictions will vary between individuals.
Foods that cause gas
Avoid foods like beans, soft drinks, garlic, onions, and fried foods. These may cause gas or bloating, which can make breathing more difficult. This can lead to chest tightness and asthma attacks.
Sulfates are chemicals commonly added to foods and drinks to improve their taste, appearance, or shelf life. Things like sauerkraut, dried fruits, and pickled foods are very rich in sulfur. Beverages such as wine, alcohol, and grape juice are also rich in sulfites. These products can worsen symptoms and lead to adverse reactions in some people with asthma.
Salicylates are chemicals found naturally in tea, coffee, and some spices. Although very rare, some people with asthma may be sensitive to foods or drinks that contain salicylates.
In general, fast food should be limited as these foods contain high levels of saturated fats, additives, and sodium. For those with asthma, it can pose greater health risks and make symptoms worse.
According to a study published in respiratory medicineThose who ate fast food, especially hamburgers, were more likely to have severe asthma and wheezing than those who ate fast food less than twice a week.
How to manage asthma
If you have asthma, it is important to maintain a healthy weight and avoid asthma triggers.
According to the American Lung Association, common triggers for asthma attacks include:
- Respiratory infections
- Allergens (from pets and food)
- exposure to smoke
- Pollen and air pollution
- Strong odors or cleaning products
While some of these triggers are nearly impossible to avoid, others may be easier to bypass.
It’s also important to visit your health care provider regularly, make a plan to avoid triggers, and take medications as prescribed.
Some people find it helpful to join a support group to connect with others who are living with this condition. If you’re interested in joining a support group, the American Lung Association has partnered with Inspire to create the Living With Asthma Support Group.
Although there is no set diet for asthma, eating a healthy diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals is important to help manage symptoms.
For some, there are trigger foods that may exacerbate symptoms and should be avoided. The best way to effectively control your condition is to maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet, and schedule regular visits with your healthcare provider.
Word from Verywell
Changing your diet can be intimidating. It is important to give yourself grace through the process and make slow and gradual changes. If you suffer from asthma, know that you are not alone. Support groups are available where you can share helpful tips and tricks with others who are facing the same issues as you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best food for asthma?
Foods like bananas, apples, broccoli, and fatty fish are all nutrient-rich options to help you manage your condition.
What foods help you breathe better?
Foods rich in vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E have been associated with improved lung function, which helps you breathe better.
Is coffee harmful to asthma?
For most asthmatics, drinking a moderate amount of coffee is fine. However, in rare cases, the salicylates in coffee may trigger symptoms.