The Best Diet for Asthma

Published on Apr 03, 2023 | 1:48 PM

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Asthma affects millions of Americans each year, making breathing and laborious activities far harder than normal for many. However, there are a number of things you can do to improve your quality of life with asthma.

An overview of diet and asthma

Asthma is a well-known condition, affecting over 25 million or 1 in 12 people in the United States alone (CDC). Additionally, half of those with the condition get asthma attacks, which makes it difficult for a person to breathe. While the condition makes prolonged physical activity difficult, there are many cases where people with asthma appear to adapt to the condition later in life. 

While some find relief from routine medical care, others have found that adjusting other aspects of their lifestyle, such as their diet, has proven to be an effective way to improve and manage asthma. Some call this the "asthma diet." An asthma diet has been an effective method for those needing additional assistance due to it being rich in nutrients that specifically aid the lungs and airways on top of being healthy. 


What foods help asthma?

While there are many foods associated with worsening symptoms of asthma, there are many nutrients that can help reduce the condition. According to sources like Healthline and WebMD, the following nutrients can help those who suffer from Asthma. 

Flavonoids: According to Healthline, flavonoids are compounds found in various types of foods like fruit, vegetables, tea, wine, and chocolate. Not to be confused with vitamins, these compounds allow the body to deal with toxins and stressors while regulating cellular activity. Not a one-all be-all, flavonoids are divided into six groups:

  • Anthocyanins: Berries, black plums, blood oranges, specific roots, eggplants, purple corn, etc.
  • Flavan-3-ols: Red wine, cacao beans, beer, apples, black teas, hops, fruit juice, black soybeans, etc. 
  • Flavanols: Mostly tea and wine, but can also be found in onions, apples, citrus fruits, leafy vegetables, etc. 
  • Flavanones: lemons, limes, dried oregano, grapefruit, artichokes, oranges, orange juice, etc.
  • Flavones: Dried/fresh parsley, dried oregano, artichokes, green pepper, celeriac, chicory, etc.
  • Isoflavones: legume seeds, genistein, daidzein, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, meats, cereals, etc. 

While not firmly determining the connection between flavonoids and how they affect asthma, a 2013 study does attribute balancing flavonoid-rich food into your diet will ultimately help overall health to the point that it positively affects your lungs. 

MagnesiumSeveral studies over the past several years have established the benefits of magnesium (Ex: Soybeans, millet, almonds, etc) when it comes to several diseases and disabilities, including asthma. According to WebMD, the mineral helps with inflammation and wheezing, which allows normal management of several airways. Magnesium has been shown to help:

  • Soothe inflammation in the lungs
  • Raise nitric oxide levels
  • Reduce muscle spasms

Selenium: There is evidence that selenium does support those with mild and severe cases of asthma. As detailed by ScienceDirect, selenium (Ex: Red/white meat, eggs, fish, shellfish, etc)  can help with mucus production and inflammation that often contribute to the severity of asthma. More specifically, it reduces adverse reactions like inflammation that tightens the airways and reduces or prevents the overproduction of mucus that might further block your body’s attempts to get oxygen. 

Vitamin C: Known as one of the primary vitamins you should take for your immune system and known to help fight off general disease, vitamin C (Ex: Fruits, berries, juice, vegetables, etc)  also helps reduce the severity of asthma. An asthma diet that includes regular levels of vitamin C will not only boost regular daily activity but will also improve long term health. A 2014 study outlines this exactly, exhibiting increased recovery after exercising in patients with asthma who regularly took vitamin C. 

Vitamin D: The results are clear when it comes to this vitamin, normal lung function is reduced when you have less than the needed amount of vitamin D in your system. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, there is a correlation between low lung function and lack of vitamin D in both children and adults. Furthermore, those with mild to moderate asthma would benefit from vitamin D to reduce or neutralize asthma attacks. Some examples of vitamin D include:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna 
  • Swordfish
  • Sardines
  • Liver
  • Fortified orange juice

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Wayne C. Hahne,

English graduate and Call-On-Doc’s medical resource guide, Wayne C. Hahne is an experienced and passionate medical education content expert. Through diligent research, provider interviews and utilizing the industry's leading resources for wellness information, it is Mr. Hahne’s personal mission to educate the general public on medical conditions with in-depth and easy-to-understand written guides.

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