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World Asthma Day 2020: Foods To Eat And Avoid If You Have Asthma

Every year on 5 May, World Asthma Day is observed to increase awareness about asthma and how to keep it under control. World Asthma Day event is annually organised by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA). The theme for World Asthma Day 2020 is 'Enough Asthma Deaths'.

Asthma is a respiratory disease which affects 3 to 38% in children and 2 to 12% in adults [1]. An Indian Study on Epidemiology of Asthma, Respiratory Symptoms and Chronic Bronchitis estimated that the prevalence of asthma in India to be 2.05% among those aged above 15 years [2].

Asthma And Nutrition

People suffering from asthma need to include certain foods in their diet to improve their overall health and asthma symptoms. Research studies showed that eating processed foods instead of fresh foods has increased asthma cases in the past few decades [3], [4].

Asthmatic patients should eat a well-balanced diet which includes fresh fruits and vegetables. However, one needs to keep in mind that certain foods cause allergies which could trigger asthma symptoms. Food intolerances and food allergies happen when the immune system overreacts to specific proteins in food which could result in asthma symptoms.

Foods which contain vitamin A, vitamin D, beta-carotene, magnesium, omega 3 fatty acids, and other vitamins and minerals help manage asthma effectively.

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Foods To Eat If You Have Asthma

1. Apples

Apples are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and magnesium which keep asthma at bay. According to a research study in Nutrition Journal, apples reduce the risk of asthma and improve lung function [5].


2. Fruits and vegetables

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables could lower asthma symptoms because they contain antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. Eating rainbow-coloured foods like orange, red, brown, yellow, and green-coloured fruits and veggies will not only strengthen your immune system, but also will lower the rates of asthma attacks [6].


3. Omega 3 fatty acids

Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon, sardines, tuna and some plant sources like flaxseeds and nuts should be a part of your diet. According to the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, eating foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids reduce the severity of asthma and protect the harmful effects of indoor pollution in children [7].


4. Bananas

Bananas are said to decrease wheezing in children with asthma due to the rich antioxidant and potassium content in the fruit, according to a survey published in the European Respiratory Journal [8]. Consuming bananas will help improve lung function in asthmatic children.

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5. Vitamin D-rich foods

Food sources of vitamin D include milk, orange juice, salmon, and eggs, which could lower the number of asthma attacks in children aged 6 to 15. Vitamin D is known to reduce upper respiratory infections and improve lung function in children and adults with asthma [9].


6. Magnesium-rich foods

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that children from 11 to 19 years old who had low magnesium levels in their body had poor lung function [10]. Increase the intake of magnesium by eating foods like dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, salmon, and spinach.


7. Vitamin A-rich foods

A study published in the Journal Medicine found that children with asthma had low levels of vitamin A compared to children without asthma [11]. Eat foods rich in vitamin A such as carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens.


Foods To Avoid If You Have Asthma

1. Salicylates

Salicylates are compounds found in foods that can cause adverse reactions in asthmatic people who are sensitive to this compound [12]. Salicylates are also found in medications and other products. Salicylates are found in coffee, tea, herbs and other spices.


2. Sulfites

Sulfites are a type of preservative found in foods like dried fruits, wine, shrimps, pickled foods, bottled lemon and lime juice. This preservative could worsen asthma symptoms [13].


3. Artificial ingredients

Artificial ingredients like food flavourings, food colouring, and chemical preservatives are often found in processed and fast foods. People with asthma should avoid these foods.


4. Gaseous foods

Gaseous foods like cabbage, beans, carbonated drinks, garlic, onions, and fried foods cause gas which puts pressure on the diaphragm. This leads to increased asthma symptoms.

Since, asthma is a life-threatening condition maintaining a healthy diet can go a long way.

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