Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Foods That Affect Asthma

Asthma affects more than 20-34 million Americans, including about 7 million children, and drains the economy of $16.1 billion each year, according to the American Lung Association.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a condition where normal respiratory airways feel restricted and breathing becomes labored.

The bronchial tubes become inflamed with increased production of sticky secretions. It is often accompanied by wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, and a feeling of chest constriction. For some, it can be life threatening.

But what many may not know, is there are natural remedies that can support asthma and healthy lung funtion. Some of those things are readily available at your grocery store. The right diet might be one of the best ways to help support asthma symptoms. Some of those include:

9 Foods That Affect Asthma

Experts have studied asthma and diet to see if any correlation might help sufferers avoid certain challenges or reap health benefits. Results and opinions are a bit mixed, but these findings may interest you:

1. Food allergies: Food allergies can trigger asthma symptoms. Avoid known food allergens to help steer clear of asthma attacks.

2. Antioxidants and carotenoids: Consumption of an antioxidant-rich diet led to improvements in both lung capacity and longer times for an asthmatic attack to worsen, according to findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. People with diets that are higher in vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, flavonoids, magnesium, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids have lower rates of asthma. Antioxidants are known to protect cells from free-radical damage.

3. Fruit and omega-3s: Teens who eat poorly are more likely to have asthma symptoms. Eating plenty of fruits and foods with vitamins C and E and omega-3 fatty acids appears to promote lung function.

4. Mediterranean diet: Children who ate a Mediterranean diet while growing up—high in nuts and fruits like grapes, apples and tomatoes—are less likely to have asthma-like symptoms as adults. (2007 study)

5. Vegetables: A study comparing the diets of city-dwelling kids and rural children found that asthma was three times more prevalent in the city kids, even after they adjusted for pollution. Researchers learned that children who ate the most vegetables and milk were 2-3 times less likely to develop asthma or allergies than kids who ate the most.

6. Apples: A British study of adults found that eating apples helped to reduce asthma symptoms. The vitamins in produce, especially A, C and E, act as antioxidants, and researchers theorize that these may help to reduce airway stress and tissue damage.

7. Watch the meat: The Nutrition Journal published research that suggests that eating more meat, poultry and seafood is associated with a higher risk of asthma and hayfever in adults. Richard Rosenkranz from the University of Western Sydney headed up the study, which examined 150,000 Australian adults.

8. Sweet potatoes: According to Kathleen Riggs of the Spectrum, sweet potatoes are a great good source because of a high amount of antioxidants that work in the body to prevent inflammatory problems like asthma, arthritis and gout. Just don't counteract the positive health benefits by smothering it in butter, sugar and marshmallows.

9. Vitamin D: Food sources include eggs, fish and dairy products -- and the sun if you want to argue that soaking up the sun's rays counts as nutrition. Vitamin D is the new "it" vitamin. A new review article in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology is making its case for Vitamin D supplementation in the treatment of asthma. The review says it "blocks the cascade of inflammation-causing proteins in the lung, as well as increasing production of the protein interleukin-10, which has anti-infammatory effects."


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