Although there are no specific dietary recommendations for people with asthma, research has shown that several foods support lung function, improve the body’s immune system, and reduce asthma symptoms. However, certain foods may worsen asthma symptoms or increase the likelihood of it developing.
Asthma is a common chronic condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), just under 25 million people in the United States have asthma, with children making up around a fifth of this number.
An article in Nutrition Reviews states that asthma is more common in African Americans and people of lower socioeconomic status.
This article looks at what foods people with asthma may wish to avoid, what foods may improve or even prevent asthma symptoms from developing, and lifestyle factors that may help a person manage this chronic condition.
Foods to avoid
The American Lung Association (ALA) has identified key foods and drinks that people with asthma may wish to avoid because they may worsen asthma symptoms.
Foods that contain sulfites
Sulfites are a type of preservative often found in preserved food and drink, such as alcohol, pickled foods, bottled lemon and lime juice, and dried fruits.
People with asthma who have high levels of sulfites in their diet may find their asthma symptoms worsen. The ALA warn that foods containing sulfites, particularly wine, may even trigger an asthma attack. A 2018 study confirms that white wine can lead to intolerance reactions in people with asthma.
Learn more about alcohol and asthma here.
Salicylates are compounds found in teas, coffees, spicy food, or foods flavored with herbs. Although rare, people with asthma are sometimes sensitive to these compounds and might be more likely to experience a flare-up of symptoms.
Two studies in 2014 and 2016 found that aspirin, which contains salicylate, exacerbated asthma in some people.
Learn more about the risks and benefits of aspirin here.
A 2013 study looking at the consumption of fast food in children and teenagers found that those who consumed fast food three times a week or more were more likely to develop severe asthma, as well as other health conditions.