Unfortunately, there is no specialised diet for someone with asthma; your medication including your inhalers is the most effective way of managing your asthma including temporary relief of asthma symptoms like shortness of breath and longer term control. It is however important to have a healthy diet as part of your overall asthma treatment. Eating healthy is just as important as having regular exercise. Asthmatics who are obese tend to find it more difficult to control their symptoms than asthmatics of healthy weight. If you are intolerant to certain foods its recommended to avoid them as they may exacerbate asthma symptoms; in relation to possible food intolerances exacerbating your asthma symptoms, a food diary is a good tool to use to determine food versus symptoms
Asthma and Nutrition
The incidence of asthma has risen in Ireland over the past three decades. Ireland has the fourth highest instance of asthma in the world with over 470,000 people living with it; that’s almost 10% of the population. Some researchers speculate that our changing diet has a lot to do with the amount of people being diagnosed with asthma. Unfortunately, in Ireland our intake of fruit and vegetables is decreasing and more and more people are now consuming processed foods. It’s still unclear if the foods we are eating have a clear correlation with asthma.
There is some evidence which indicates that diets rich in Vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, omega-3 and magnesium lowers risk of asthma. This may be due to the fact the majority of these nutrients are antioxidants which means they protect the cells from free radical damage. A recent study indicated that teenagers with poor diets were more likely to have asthma symptoms. Those individuals most likely to have poor lung function had diets lacking in fruit, vegetables, vitamin C rich foods and omega – 3 fatty acids. Children who grow up eating a balanced diet are less susceptible to asthma like symptoms. It’s not clear that a deficiency in certain foods is the cause of asthma as “treatment” of asthma with these foods has been unsuccessful. Unfortunately taking supplements will have very little benefit over asthma control.
That being said having a healthy balanced diet has a direct link with well controlled asthma. By having the right nutrients in the right quantities, your body is less susceptible to illness and has a better opportunity to fight the respiratory viruses that trigger asthma attacks.
Foods to eat to aid asthma symptoms
I previously stated that there is no specialised diet for a person with asthma but having a balanced diet can most certainly help with symptoms.
- Ensure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, a variety of different colours will allow you to consume more antioxidants.
- Include more omega – 3 rich foods in your diet. The most ideal foods include oily fish, salmon, tuna and sardine. There is significant evidence which suggests that omega- 3 fatty acids can help someone with asthma as well as increasing circulation and reducing inflammation.
- Reduce or completely avoid trans fats, these fats found in margarine and processed foods have been known to worsen asthma and other serious conditions like heart disease.
Other ways in which diet affects Asthma symptoms
- Eating a high calorie diet: Even if the food you are eating is healthy you can still eat too much of it. If you are eating more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Individuals who are obese are more likely to have severe asthma symptoms, and as a direct result they take more medication and tend to miss more school or work.
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder: This condition can be extremely uncomfortable and can make asthma more difficult to control. GORD does not always cause heartburn symptoms, but can require medication. Sometimes weight loss for an overweight individual can eliminate GORD. Other methods of eliminating GORD can be eating smaller meals, reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption or any foods you notice trigger GORD symptoms. Avoid eating before bed time as it can take some time for food to digest.
- Sensitivity to food additives: Sulphides are a common food additive used to keep food fresh and reduce mould growth. Unfortunately, this additive has been known to trigger temporary asthma symptoms for individuals. Sulphides in foods can give off sulphur dioxide which can irritate the lungs. Fortunately, sulphides are no longer present in fresh fruits and vegetables under EU legislation. They are still used in many processed foods such as dried fruits, canned vegetables, wine etc.
I always recommended before making any big changes to your eating habits you contact a nutritionist, health care provider or asthma specialist first. These individuals will offer the correct advice for improving your diet and they will consider the severity of your asthma.
Weekly weigh in clinic
Currently I am offering a weight loss program where your BMI and waist measurement is calculated and I check your weight weekly. You get tips and motivation weekly to help you lose weight all at a great weekly rate of €10 per week.
Whelehans Nutrition Service
Whelehans nutritional service is a private one to one advice service with our nutritionist Aisling Murray. Aisling’s areas of interest include weight loss management, nutrition education and food intolerance. Our nutrition service offers you the chance to change your life in a positive way by focusing on your overall wellbeing as well as the chance to follow up on your progress.
Aisling Murray has a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and offers a one to one specialist nutrition service at Whelehans Pharmacy. Call Whelehans at 04493 34591 for an appointment. E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org