The Western diet high in unhealthy fats, carbs and sugar has been thought to be the main culprit behind a myriad of undesirable health outcomes, including asthma, which is on the rise—and here’s even more research regarding food and asthma.
Foods high in unhealthy fats, such as fast food burgers and fries or hash browns, don’t mix well with those who have asthma. In fact, a study out of Australia showed increased airway inflammation only hours after eating such foods. Interestingly, this negative impact of fast food also impaired the body’s response to a common asthma relief medication.
And speaking of eating fast food burgers, a large international study on 50,000 children between the ages of eight and 12 from both wealthy and impoverished countries, published in the journal Thorax, found that children who ate three or more fast food burgers a week had an increased risk for developing asthma and wheezing.
Consuming those fast food burgers also pointed towards a higher lifetime prevalence of asthma and wheezing for those children, especially among kids from “rich” countries (where fast food is readily available) with no prior history of allergies, asthma or wheezing. In the past, high unhealthy fat intake has been show to activate the immune response, leading to increased blood markers of inflammation. In short, the body responds to unhealthy fats as if they were invading pathogens, releasing inflammatory mediators.
Now, however, it looks as if it holds true not only for aggravating existing asthma, but also for setting the stage for developing asthma—perhaps even for life.
Other foods that can be no-nos for those with asthma are white bread, soft drinks, conventional pizza, processed cheese, chips, cured meats and prepared soups—and, of course, anything a person has a food allergy to.
By contrast, however, eating a Mediterranean diet that is rich in veggies and fruits as well as fish appears to keep the risk for developing asthma at bay. More specifically, a high fruit intake benefited children from both affluent and financially struggling countries, while a diet high in fish was protective for kids in “rich” countries, and a diet packed with cooked green veggies were beneficial for those in other countries.
The study’s authors point out that fruits and veggies are packed with antioxidant vitamins and biologically active agents, and the omega-3s in fish have anti-inflammatory properties—making potential biological links for the study’s findings.
Additionally, plant-based protein sources from legumes and certain whole grains—namely lentils, black beans, red beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, oats, bulgur, barley and brown rice—as well as flaxseed, garlic, onions and ginger are considered helpful to keep asthma and its symptoms at bay or in check.
That’s why it’s smart to avoid asthma no-no foods and, instead, eat foods that can help fight against asthma.