You may have suspected by now that some foods you eat can have an effect on your asthma. Although there’s no special “asthma diet,” research has shown that some ingredients may make your asthma worse, while others may actually improve your symptoms. Plan your meals with these tips in mind to keep your asthma in check.
1. Fill up on fruits and vegetables.
They’re filled with antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, which can help reduce lung swelling and irritation. Plus, fruits and veggies are low in calories but fill you up, which can help you maintain a healthy weight – another factor that improves asthma control.
2. Get your dose of dairy.
Contrary to popular belief, dairy foods have not been found to trigger asthma. In fact, in a study investigating food intake and asthma in adults, drinking milk was associated with a lower risk of asthma. Nor do dairy foods, like milk, cause mucus production. The naturally creamy texture of milk may create a thin, temporary coating over the mouth and throat, which some people may mistake for mucus. And vitamin D, found in milk, salmon and eggs, has been found to help improve asthma. Even spending a few minutes in the sun can increase vitamin D levels.
3. Stay away from sulfites.
Sulfites are chemicals that may be used as preservatives to prevent discoloration in foods and beverages. Some people with moderate to severe asthma find that sulfites can trigger asthma symptoms. You might find sulfites used as preservatives in things like wine, dried fruits, pickles, fresh and frozen shrimp, and other foods.
4. Consider caffeine.
Beverages that contain caffeine may provide a slight amount of bronchodilation (expansion of the bronchial air passages) for about an hour or two. But if you have asthma symptoms, using your rescue inhaler is a more effective way to get temporary relief.
5. Ask about herbs.
Some studies have shown that certain Chinese herbal formulas have demonstrated improvements in airway function and asthma symptoms. But be sure to ask your doctor if these may be helpful for you. Experts warn against using herbs as a substitute for your asthma medications.
6. Avoid that “too-full” feeling.
Many people with asthma feel short of breath when their stomachs are full because their diaphragms can’t work as well. Your diaphragm helps to inflate your lungs. To help the diaphragm, eat smaller, more frequent meals, and try to limit foods that cause gas (common offenders include beans, vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, and spicy foods).
7. Watch your weight.
If you are overweight, it can make your asthma worse, but even losing a little weight can improve your symptoms. If you need help shedding extra pounds, talk to your doctor. He or she can recommend a program that will help you lose weight and keep it off long-term.