Asthma affects more than two million Australians and this is growing. A recent Australian study suggests that a decline in diet quality may contribute to this. The ‘Modern Australian Diet’ includes increased sugar, saturated fats, preservatives and processed foods that cause inflammation in the body generally, and as this study showed, can extend to the lungs, worsening asthma.
The study authors also discuss how a diet low in fruits and vegetables causes increased inflammation in the airways and an increased risk of asthma attack. Fruit and vegetables are known to reduce chronic inflammation. They are good sources of antioxidants including vitamins A, C and E amongst many other compounds. It’s these antioxidants that can neutralise the impact of free radicals that cause inflammation in the lungs and elsewhere in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also anti-inflammatory. Found in chia seeds and cold- water fish such as salmon and sardines, they have been linked to improvements in asthma symptoms. It is actually the ratio of these ‘good fats’ to the ‘bad fats’, such as saturated and omega 6 fats, that is crucial.
Another food related trigger of asthma is the preservative sulphite which is found in many medicines and foods including some seafood, dried fruits, soft drinks, beer and white wine. Check the nutrition panel on your food labels and avoid numbers 220-228. It is estimated that sulphites affect up to 10% of people with asthma, causing wheezing and chest tightness.
Individual food sensitivities may also worsen inflammation and asthma. Foods that commonly cause an inflammatory response in different people are wheat, other grains, dairy products, eggs, soy, nuts, and even certain fruits and vegetables.
There are some excellent food sensitivity tests available now. Call us or come into the pharmacy to find out more.