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7 Foods and Drinks That May Affect Asthma

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    How Your Diet May Affect Your Asthma

    If you’re one of the nearly 18 million American adults who have asthma, you know that inflammation in the lungs is the primary cause of symptoms associated with the disease. A growing body of research suggests that certain foods can worsen inflammation and therefore the severity of asthma, according to Meredith C. McCormack, MD, an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore and a pulmonologist who treats people with asthma.

    “The clinical evidence for dietary changes as a primary treatment for asthma is still evolving, but there’s plenty of evidence that suggests a healthy diet is beneficial,” says Dr. McCormack, who works with her asthma patients to develop nutritional plans that alleviate asthma symptoms and support overall health.

    In addition to following a healthy diet, you might want to talk to your doctor about whether avoiding these seven foods and drinks could help improve your asthma management.

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    Artificial Sweeteners

    The calorie-free sweetener aspartame, commonly used in diet sodas and juices, is one of many food additives known to cause allergic reactions, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

    Avoiding foods that contain additives and preservatives may be helpful for people with asthma, suggests Peg Strub, MD, the chief of the allergy department at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco. “Food allergy symptoms can mirror — or even worsen — the symptoms of asthma and vice versa,” she says, “so we find it’s better for people with breathing difficulties to avoid foods high in chemicals that can cause allergic reactions.”

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    Processed Foods

    Many processed foods found in grocery stores and at fast-food restaurants also contain preservatives and artificial colorings that may worsen lung inflammation. Although the evidence for the effect of these additives on asthma symptoms is limited, you may want to be wary of the following:

    • Parabens: preservatives used in foods and medicines
    • Tartrazine: a dye used in sugary drinks, ice cream, and hot dogs
    • Nitrates and nitrites: preservatives used in processed meats such as hot dogs, bologna, and salami

    “A lot of highly processed foods, such as fast foods, deep-fried foods, packaged foods, and frozen foods, seem to increase asthma symptoms, although we’re not sure why,” says McCormack. She advises her asthma patients to limit these foods and instead focus on in-season whole fruits and vegetables — like apples in late fall or leafy greens in the spring.

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    Vegetable Oil

    Vegetable oil — and foods cooked or manufactured using it, such as cakes and salad dressings — contains the preservative benzoate. Although adverse reactions to benzoate are rare, its use has been associated with increased inflammation, says Jennifer Musser, a nutritionist in Denver who works with adults who have inflammation-related chronic conditions, including asthma. What’s more, she says, cooking with vegetable oil at high temperatures releases toxins into the air that can adversely affect breathing. 

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    Cereals

    Many packaged breakfast cereals contain benzoate as well as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), which are added to prevent cereals from changing color, odor, and flavor before they are consumed. According to the AAFA, these products have been associated with allergic reactions in some people.

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    Fatty Foods

    Desserts, red meat, and other fatty foods can worsen inflammation and exacerbate your asthma symptoms. These foods can also make it more difficult for you to maintain a healthy weight, which is vital when you have a chronic health condition like asthma, McCormack says. If you’re overweight, your lungs have to work harder, she adds, which can aggravate asthma symptoms.

    Not all fatty foods should be limited or avoided, however. Both McCormack and Musser emphasize that some fats, such as those found in fish, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, and nuts and seeds, are healthy for people with asthma. Oily fish, like salmon, also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can help fight inflammation. Says McCormack, “Substituting fish for red meat whenever possible is always a good thing.” 

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    Alcohol

    Sulfites, commonly used as a preservative in alcoholic beverages, may sometimes worsen asthma symptoms, particularly aggravating wheezing and difficulty breathing, say experts at the British Allergy Foundation’s Allergy UK. Most wines and even some beers contain sulfites, notes Musser, who says it’s best to avoid them — or at least limit your intake — if you have chronic breathing problems.

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    Milk

    It’s long been thought that dairy products like milk and ice cream worsen asthma symptoms because they increase the production of mucus in the lungs. But Dr. Strub says there’s little scientific evidence to support this idea. Rather than limiting or avoiding milk, she recommends moderate consumption of dairy because of the health benefits it offers.






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Date: 09.12.2018, 13:23 / Views: 63454