Anyone who lives with asthma or who has a loved one with asthma knows how scary it can be when the simple act of breathing is disrupted. Asthma is caused by inflammation in the airways and attacks can be triggered by allergens such as pollen, dust or pet dander. Even changes in the weather or stress can be a trigger. Because asthma is an inflammatory condition, adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle that reduces inflammation in the body may help reduce the severity of the disease.
According to a study conducted by the CDC, being overweight can increase the risk of asthma by 66%. Some studies suggest that some of these cases are not true asthma, but breathing difficulties caused by other factors and not airway obstruction. According to the Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology there is growing evidence that there is an association between child obesity and asthma in children. One study found that obese children don’t respond as well to their inhaled medication used to treat asthma. Obesity also appears to affect the way adults respond to their medication, with leaner adults responding better to inhalers and obese adults doing better with an oral medication. (European Respiratory Journal, 2006,Vol. 27, No. 3)
If obesity is a risk factor, then losing weight should improve asthma symptoms. According a 2012 review of research published in the Journal of Asthma and Allergy, obese individuals who lost weight experienced a 48%-100% remission of asthma symptoms, decreased use of medication, and fewer exacerbations and hospitalizations.
Eating more fruits and vegetables can help with weight loss and may also help improve lung function. Vitamins and antioxidant phytochemicals found in fruits, vegetables and other plant based foods may help protect airways from damage caused by increased inflammation. Some studies have found a connection between increased fruit consumption in children and reduce asthma symptoms. A study conducted in the UK at London’s Kings College found adults who ate at least 2 apples a week were 22-32% less likely to develop asthma. In an animal study, lycopene supplementation was found to reduce allergic inflammation and reduced the amount of inflammatory compounds in the lungs. Lycopene can be found in tomatoes (especially cooked tomato products), watermelon, and pink grapefruit. While not a fruit or vegetable, Pycnogenol