While asthma is typically managed with medications, it is believed that diet may also play a role in the management of asthma symptoms. In this article, we will explore the connection between diet and asthma and how making dietary changes can improve asthma symptoms.
One potential link between diet and asthma is the role of inflammation in both conditions. Inflammation is a natural response of the immune system to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can contribute to the development of asthma and other chronic conditions. A diet high in processed foods, saturated fats, and added sugars may promote inflammation in the body.
On the other hand, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources may have anti-inflammatory effects and may help to reduce asthma symptoms. For example, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which are high in antioxidants, may help to reduce inflammation in the airways. Similarly, omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish and other seafood, have anti-inflammatory effects and may help to reduce asthma symptoms.
Another potential link between diet and asthma is the role of gut health. The gut is home to a complex ecosystem of microorganisms, known as the microbiome, which plays an important role in the immune system and overall health.
Studies are developing that suggest a diet that supports a healthy gut microbiome, such as a diet high in fibre and fermented foods, may help to improve asthma symptoms. For example, consuming probiotics, which are live microorganisms found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, may help to suppress inflammatory responses related to allergies.
Another dietary factor that may be associated with asthma is vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory properties and may play a role in the development of asthma. People with asthma often have lower levels of vitamin D than those without asthma.
Foods that are high in vitamin D include fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, egg yolks, and fortified foods, such as milk and cereal. Increasing vitamin D intake through diet or supplements may help to reduce asthma symptoms.
Foods that may worsen asthma
It’s also important to note that certain foods and food additives may worsen asthma symptoms in certain individuals. These include processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and food additives such as sulfites, which are often used to preserve dried fruits, wine, and other foods. If you have asthma, it may be helpful to keep a food diary to track any symptoms that occur after consuming certain foods.
Not only diet!
While diet alone may not be the sole cause of asthma, it can play a role in managing asthma symptoms. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources may help to reduce inflammation and improve gut health. Additionally, increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D may also improve asthma symptoms.
It’s also important to work with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalised dietary recommendations.
It’s important to remember that asthma is a complex condition and that dietary changes alone will probably not not be enough to manage symptoms in most cases. Therefore, it is essential to work with a healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive management plan that may include medication, lifestyle changes, and dietary modifications.
(Lee MY, Ahn KS, Kwon OK, et al. Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects of kefir in a mouse asthma model. Immunobiology. 2007;212(8):647-654. doi:10.1016/j.imbio.2007.05.004)
Guilleminault, Laurent et al. “Diet and Asthma: Is It Time to Adapt Our Message?.” Nutrients vol. 9,11 1227. 8 Nov. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9111227