The link between asthma and nutrition has been increasingly well-established. According to research from the Journal of Asthma, chronic inflammation of the airways is a key component of asthma, which may be modulated by dietary intake.
High fat intake, a characteristic of the Western diet, can cause an increase in airway inflammation. In adults with severe asthma, higher fat and lower fiber intakes have been associated with increased eosinophilic airway inflammation.
Conversely, the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seafood, has been correlated to improvement in airway functions.
While the linkages between nutrition and asthma has grown clearer, it is still true that changes in diet can take time to bear results. With that in mind, here are five tips from the Mayo Clinic to easily improve your diet and better control your asthma.
There is no asthma diet that will eliminate your symptoms, but these steps may help:
- Eat to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can worsen asthma. Even losing a little weight can improve your symptoms. Learn how to eat right to maintain a healthy weight over the long term.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. They are a good source of antioxidants such as beta carotene and vitamins C and E, which may help reduce lung swelling and irritation (inflammation) caused by cell-damaging chemicals known as free radicals.
- Avoid allergy-triggering foods. Allergic food reactions can cause asthma symptoms. In some people, exercising after eating an allergy-causing food leads to asthma symptoms.
- Take in vitamin D. People with more-severe asthma may have low vitamin D levels. Milk, eggs, and fish such as salmon all contain vitamin D. Even spending a few minutes outdoors in the sun can increase vitamin D levels.
- Avoid sulfites. Sulfites can trigger asthma symptoms in some people. Used as a preservative, sulfites can be found in wine, dried fruits, pickles, fresh and frozen shrimp, and some other foods.
It’s also possible that eating less salt (sodium) or eating foods rich in oils found in cold-water fish and some nuts and seeds (omega-3 fatty acids) may reduce asthma symptoms.
As with any diet, the key to success is to get started; make it easier to eat healthy by buying plenty of healthy food while at the grocery store. Stay committed, even if you fall back into bad diet habits.