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It’s important to pay attention to self-care when you have asthma, and that includes keeping your diet as healthy as possible. It’s been suggested that eating certain foods may help to reduce asthma symptoms, and in some cases, asthma symptoms can be caused or made worse by a food allergy. Most people with asthma can eat a normal diet.
There is evidence that if you have a food allergy as well as asthma, you might be more likely to experience a serious asthma attack. If that’s the case for you, you’ll need to be very careful to avoid any foods you’re sensitive to. Managing your asthma properly can also help keep the chances of any serious attacks down.
It’s also thought that substances called sulphfites can trigger asthma symptoms in people with moderate to severe asthma. Sulphites are often used to preserve foods like dried fruits, wines and pickles and should be mentioned as an ingredient on food labels if you’re not sure.
An unhealthy diet that leads to being overweight or obese can also have an effect on your asthma symptoms. If you’re overweight, you might find that losing even just a small amount of weight has a positive effect.
There’s no diet that will treat asthma, or reduce the airway inflammation symptoms it causes. There’s some evidence that drinks containing caffeine might help reduce symptoms temporarily, but a reliever inhaler is much more effective.
Interestingly, there’s also some evidence that people with a diet that contained high levels of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, flavonoids, magnesium, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids may be less likely to develop asthma.
Another study looking at asthma and diet found that teenagers with a poor diet that didn’t eat enough fruit, vegetable and omega-3 fatty acids were more at risk of poor lung function. Another 2007 study showed that children who were fed a healthy Mediterranean-style diet packed with fruits, nuts and tomatoes experienced fewer asthma-like symptoms.
It’s possible that low levels of some vitamins could affect asthma, but the link hasn’t been proved. Back in 2009, it was reported that a lack of vitamins A and C could raise the risk of asthma. Research carried out by Nottingham University looked at results from several studies and found that low levels of vitamin C increased asthma risk by 12 per cent. There was a ’significant’ link between low intake of vitamin A and astha too but this couldn’t be measured. The conclusion at the time was that more in depth research was needed.
Take in vitamin D. People with more severe asthma may have low vitamin D levels and replenishing vitamin D may improve asthma. Fish such as salmon, milk and eggs all contain vitamin D. Spending a few minutes outdoors in the sun can also increase vitamin D levels.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. They're a good source of antioxidants such as beta carotene and vitamins C and E that may help control lung swelling and irritation (inflammation) caused by cell-damaging chemicals known as free radicals.
There are no hard and fast rules unless you know that you have a food allergy, in which case you will need to avoid that food completely.
Some of the more common triggers for food allergies include:
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