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Diet for Asthma Patients

Imagine a platter of fresh, mixed green salad with a dressing of pure, extra-virgin olive oil, followed by a course of baked oily fish along with lightly steamed vegetables, to be ended by a big bowl of sweet, ripe fruits. This is one example of a healthy, delicious meal for people with asthma.

Incorrect dietary habits are a major cause for the increase in asthma rates. If dependence is more on a diet high in salt, vegetable oils, low in plant food rather than a traditional diet high in fruits, vegetables and fish, the rate of asthma tends to go up.

Diet plays a very important role for asthma patients. It can help reduce the hyperactivity of the immune cells so that they're less reactive to air pollution and allergens. Certain nutrients also help neutralize the free radicals produced, which may reduce the severity or frequency of asthma attacks and improve the function of the lungs. Right and healthy diet definitely has a positive impact on many people suffering from asthma.


What to include in an asthmatic person’s diet?

The diet of an asthma patient should include large helpings of fresh, green vegetables. Lightly steamed vegetables help bring out the flavour, retain nutrients as well as make them easier to digest.

  • Fresh fruits are an integral part of an asthmatic patient’s diet. Packed with powerful antioxidant nutrients, they help protect against the harmful effects of pollution. Studies show that lung function declines in winter when people eat less fruit and vegetables as compared to summer. Fresh fruit is high in many nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene that is beneficial for the lungs.
  • Green vegetables contain plenty of bio-flavonoids, which help to reduce free radicals in the body. Quercitin, which is found in ample quantities in onions, apples is extremely beneficial.
  • Do not forget to include a few servings of baked oily fish in your diet every week – this helps reduce inflammation of the lungs. They are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and also a healthy source of protein. Instead of a cheese burger, which may be high in pro-inflammatory fats, go in for a large serving of baked fish fillet to restore the balance of essential fatty acids in your body.
  • Instead of dressing your fresh salad with heavy refined vegetable oils like sunflower or safflower oil, try pure extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Include a moderate amount of garlic and onion in daily diet. They contain substances with powerful antioxidant activities. These vegetables not only help get rid of the free radicals that contribute to asthma, but also provide a tangy flavour to the dish.
  • Reduce salt intake. Instead use natural spices like basil(tulsi), fenugreek (methi), sage, coriander, oregano and more to give your meals more flavour and taste. Most of these spices contain rosemarinic acid which has antioxidant abilities to neutralize free radicals, and also blocks the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals, such as leukotrienes.

Therefore, make a point to eat more of -

  • Organically grown fresh fruits and vegetables, green salads
  • Fish which is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acid.
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Ginger and turmeric

Foods you need to eliminate from your diet:

  • Eliminate milk and other dairy products which are a common source of increasing the severity of asthmatic symptoms.
  • Avoid all mucus-forming foods such as dairy foods, chocolates, refined white flour, bread, cakes, and white sugar – they aggravate respiratory conditions, especially asthma. This is because excess mucus blocks the airways and thus aggravate the condition.
  • Reduce or avoid excess salt in food, the incidence of asthma has been shown to be related to high consumption of salt.

Some useful tips regarding diet:

    1. Lack of vitamin A in babies is related to increased susceptibility to bronchial problems. So, include a lot of carrots, tomatoes, spinach, apricots, strawberries and foods rich in vitamin A in diet.

    2. Vitamin C is extremely beneficial for asthma patients who experience exercise-induced hyperactive airways. Foods rich in vitamin C are grapes, tomato, pineapple, watermelon, citrus fruits, kiwi fruits, green mustard leaves, raw cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and parsley.

    3. Smokers and secondary smokers are more prone to suffer asthma and other respiratory disorders due to the damage caused by the smoke. It is therefore important, that young children be allowed to breathe smoke-free air. Generally children’s bodies are quicker to absorb toxic substances and slower to eliminate them and are thus badly affected by contaminated air.

    4. People who consume large amounts of vitamin E have a lower risk of developing asthma. Increased vitamin E intake has been shown to improve lung function significantly. Turnip, mustard, sunflower seeds are excellent sources of vitamin E.

Lycopene, also famous for its antioxidant activity, benefits especially those with exercise-induced asthma. Rich food sources of lycopene include tomatoes, guava, apricots, watermelon, papaya, red bell peppers.