If you have asthma, a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains may help reduce symptoms and improve breathing, according to a French study in the European Respiratory Journal.
For the study, researchers asked 2,600 people with asthma to answer detailed questionnaires about their diet and respiratory symptoms. They found that people whose diets scored highest on standard healthy eating indexes (including one based on the Mediterranean diet) tended to have fewer asthma symptoms and better control of the disease. The researchers adjusted the data to account for asthma-related factors, such as smoking. They suggested that, among the possible mechanisms, high-quality plant-based diets may help reduce airway inflammation.
Although diets rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are known to offer multiple health benefits, it’s important to note that this study doesn’t prove that it helps reduce asthma symptoms. There is, however, tried-and-true advice you should follow that can help reduce the risk of triggering an attack.
What else can you do?
In addition to taking your asthma medication as prescribed, experts recommend avoiding triggers whenever possible. Asthma triggers include environmental irritants, such as cigarette smoke, industrial fumes, pollen, mold, dust, animal dander or saliva, and perfumes. Exercise, cold or dry air, emotional stress, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may also trigger an asthma attack.
Taking preventive medications can also help. If exercise-induced asthma is a problem, preventive medications can help prevent triggering an attack.
Use a peak flow meter. This handheld device measures how well air flows out of the lungs. Taking peak flow meter measurements at home is a simple way to detect a decline in lung function before symptoms begin. A person with asthma determines a “personal best” level of function-the highest flow rate consistently achieved when his or her asthma is under control. Personal best depends on a number of variables, including gender, age, and height. When peak flow measurements fall below this personal best level, more aggressive medical treatment is in order.