Asthma is a prevalent immuno-mediated health condition among both children and adults. And while the current medical approach is efficient at controlling symptoms, many people actively pursue other, more lifestyle-related solutions, one of which is diet. This article will examine whether nutritional manipulation can effectively reduce asthma-related symptoms.
Compared to other topics, such as bowel cancer or heart disease, there is significantly less available research exploring this option; however, a few trials offer a good amount of practical information.
An early study from 2016 that assessed dietary patterns in adults, children and new-borns with asthma found the following:
Lower consumption of vitamin C was associated with a higher incidence of asthma and wheezing (restricted breathing characteristic of asthma) in adults.
Regular fruit consumption reduced the odds of asthma in children by 25%, while vegetable consumption had no effects in this particular review.
Higher salt intake was not associated with asthma in adults, while high adherence to the Mediterranean diet in children was shown to be beneficial.
Higher intake of vitamins D & E during pregnancy was associated with lower odds of wheezing in newborns by up to 44% and 32%, respectively.
Newborns who consumed small amounts of fish (after the introduction of solid food) had a lower incidence of asthma compared to newborns with very low or no fish consumption.
NOTE: For upcoming parents, it is essential to discuss solid food introduction, especially of potential allergens such as fish, with the paediatrician.
Did you know?
Babies born through caesarean section may have higher odds of experiencing allergies later in life. This is probably because as the newborn passes through the birth canal, it is exposed to vaginal bacteria, which help to colonise the baby's sterile gut and enrich its developing immune system.
According to 2022 research published n the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, consuming probiotic and prebiotic foods may also be beneficial.
They found that people who consumed diets rich in fibre significantly improved their total Asthma Symptom Score compared to those with the lowest fibre intake.
The study also found that daily consumption of Inulin extract (12g/d) was associated with mild improvement in symptomology. Inulin can be found in foods such as artichoke, dandelion, chicory root wheat bran, leek and garlic. It can also be supplemented.
And finally, the 2022 study also found that a product from a brand Bimono containing prebiotic fibre called galacto-oligosacharide has improved bronchoconstriction (difficulty breathing) in asthmatics after three weeks of daily supplementation while also improving systemic markers of inflammation in the blood.
Summary & Key Points
A diet high in fibre from foods such as fruits, berries, legumes and whole grains is likely to be beneficial for management alongside standard treatment.
High consumption of vitamin C, particularly for adults from food, seems to make the most difference.
Optimal maternal intake of vitamin D and E during pregnancy seems to reduce the odds of newborn asthma by up to nearly 50%
Fish consumption by the newborn after solid food introduction seems to reduce the odds of asthma diagnosis (solid food introduction in newborns needs to be discussed with paediatrician)
12g of inulin extract or consumption of inulin-containing foods such as artichoke, garlic, leek, chicory and dandelion might offer an additional benefit
A product from the Bimuno brand containing a prebiotic fibre called galacto-oligosacharide has been shown to improve respiratory efficiency in asthmatics in a 3-week clinical trial.
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And if you are struggling with health problems such as asthma, allergies, food intolerances or other chronic issues and are keen to take active measures to reduce the odds of future health risks, you might benefit from my nutritional therapy programme. See the first link below.
Garcia-Larsen V, Del Giacco SR, Moreira A, et al. Asthma and dietary intake: an overview of systematic reviews. Allergy. 2016 Apr;71(4):433-42.
Venter C, Meyer RW, Greenhawt M, et al. Role of dietary fibre in promoting immune health-An EAACI position paper. Allergy. 2022 Nov;77(11):3185-3198.
Yang H, Xun P, He K. Fish and fish oil intake about the risk of asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2013 Nov 12;8(11):e80048.