Eating for asthma
What you eat can affect asthma. Although research is far from definitive, there are some hints that this might be true. Experts are increasingly realizing that one of most important aspects in asthma is understanding allergies.
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Robert Graham, MD with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City said: “There’s really no diet that will eliminate or cure your asthma but there are certain things you could be incorporating to help.”
Note that individual reactions to food vary a great deal, but here are some rules on what to eat to possibly help asthma, or at least not aggravate it.
Best foods for Asthma
A British study discovered that even after controlling for other factors, people who reported eating two to five apples a week had a 32% lower risk of asthma than people who consumed less. Any amount less than that didn’t appear to make a difference one way or the other. According to the authors, apples contain some beneficial compounds known as flavonoids. One flavonoid in particular, khellin, has been shown to open up airways.
Cantaloupe is rich in vitamin C, which is a potent antioxidant that may prevent lung damage by fighting free radicals. One study of preschool children in Japan found that children with the highest intake of vitamin C were less likely to suffer from asthma than those with took none or lower.
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Vitamin C can be found in most fruits and vegetables, they are rich in citrus fruits such as orange and grapefruit, kiwi fruit, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and tomatoes.
Carrots contains beta-carotene which is another antioxidant. Preliminary studies suggest that beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body, may reduce the incidence of exercise-induced asthma.
Beta-carotene is also important for keeping your eyes and immune system in top shape and may even help with cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Apart from carrots, other coloured foods rich in beta-carotene sweet potatoes, apricots, and green peppers.
One review of seven previously published trials discovered that caffeinated coffee might modestly improve airway function for up to four hours after it is consumed, when compared with drinking decaf Joe.
“Caffeine is a bronchodilator that may improve airflow,” says Dr. Graham.
Flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium. According to some research, omega-3s which are rich in salmon and other oily fish, have a useful effect on asthma, but research is still maiden.
Dr. Graham said magnesium may be another helpful ingredient as it relaxes the muscles surrounding the bronchi, the airways, and so keeps them open. Constriction of the bronchi is what triggers an asthma attack.
Avocados contain a vital antioxidant called glutathione. Avocado is also rich in monounsaturated fat which helps lower cholesterol.
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Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties. In the early century, people have used garlic as top remedy for any number of ailments from hemorrhoids to viral infections.
However, garlic contain a powerful antioxidant called allicin. A 2009 study revealed that as allicin decays in the body, it produces an acid that destroys free radicals. Dr. Graham says it might help asthma.
Worst Foods for Asthma
Apart from skin reactions such as hives, asthma is another common manifestation of an egg allergy. Egg allergies are most common in children and many outgrow them. If you or your child has such an allergy, avoid eggs and egg products.
The data are mixed as to whether milk and other dairy products can aggravate asthma. Some people do have allergy to milk, which can result in coughing, wheezing, and other respiratory symptoms. Milk is one of the best sources of vitamin D, which may ease symptoms of asthma.
Peanuts can trigger fatal allergic reactions in some people and allergic asthma in others. However, the harmful properties of this nut may go beyond that. According to a study, children with asthma who also had a peanut allergy tend to develop asthma earlier than kids without a peanut allergy and were also more likely to be hospitalized.
Most children with asthma who have peanut allergies also have allergies to cats, tree pollen, dust mites, grass, and weeds.
The data on whether salt worsens asthma are variegated. However, the trademark feature of asthma is inflammation and tightening of the airways, and salt can contribute to inflammation by causing fluid retention.
According to Dr. Graham:
“I always tell people to eat less sodium if they have asthmatic symptoms.”
Most salt intake comes from restaurant or processed foods.
Shellfish allergies are the third most common allergy in children, though adults can develop these allergies too.
Avoid crab, crayfish, lobster and shrimp dishes. Although scallops, oysters, clams, and mussels cause fewer reactions. It is best to consult your allergist about whether these are good for you. Shellfish allergies usually stay with you your whole life, unlike egg allergies.
Several studies, along with anecdotal evidence, suggest that wine can trigger asthma attacks, possibly due to the presence of preservatives called sulfites, also found in dried fruit and shrimp.
Other studies suggest it might be the alcohol itself or another ingredient used in preparing the wine.
Other studies found less asthma and less severe asthma in people who drank red wine. So it is best to watch your intake of wine, given the mixed research.