Asthma is the chronic inflammatory disease that affects the airways of the lungs. It is marked by airflow obstruction and bronchospasm which is a temporary narrowing of the bronchi caused by contraction of the muscles in the lung walls and is often reversible. Coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath are its associated symptoms. The causes are complex and could be a result of environmental and genetic interactions. There is no permanent cure for asthma and effort is required for protection from various asthma triggers. Certain foods can boost immunity, dilate bronchi, and improve the overall functioning of lungs.
Caffeine is a natural bronchodilator found in coffee, cocoa, and tea. According to several clinical trials, small amount of caffeine improves lung airway's function for up to four hours in people suffering from asthma. Caffeine has similar effect on the lungs as theophylline drug which is used for respiratory disorders. Caffeine reverses obstruction; relaxes muscles and suppresses the response of the airways to stimuli.
Red onions have significant amounts of antioxidant quercetin. Joskova M and team conducted a study on Acute Bronchodilator Effect of Quercetin in Experimental Allergic Asthma. It was observed that quercetin, caused significant bronchodilation or relaxation of the smooth muscles, and it reduced hyper-reactivity of airways. Asthmatics tend to have high leukotriene levels which cause bronchial restriction. Quercetin inhibits IgE-mediated allergic mediator release from mast cells and also the release of IgG-mediated histamine and SRS-A (peptido-leukotriene). Other foods rich in quercetin are sweet potatoes, apples, berries, dill weed, dock leaves, lovage leaves, cocoa, cruciferous vegetables, buckwheat, canned capers and chili peppers.
Banana is a rich source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). In a study conducted by the Imperial College of London it was observed that children who ate just one banana per day had 34% less chances of developing asthma. Asthmatics tend to have Vitamin B6 deficiency. Vitamin B6 is critical for the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) which helps to relax the bronchial muscle tissues and ease breathing. Tuna, salmon, spinach, sunflower seeds and sweet potato are also good source of pyridoxine.
Flaxseeds are a rich source of magnesium, alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid) and phytoestrogens, potassium and selenium. Magnesium has a potential of being a bronchodilating agent. Several studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids inhibit the generation of leukotrienes, however, more conclusive studies are awaited. Other dietary sources of magnesium are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, spinach and beans. Flaxseeds can be consumed in roasted form, or topped up on salads. Their powdered form can be added to milk or curry.
Water and sea salt can be used to treat asthma especially in emergency. Asthma indicates fluid and electrolyte imbalance. You can dissolve a pinch of sea salt in the mouth and drink a glass of water. Make sure you do not inhale the salt.
Rosemary extract relaxes the smooth muscles of trachea and intestine. Rosemaric acid exhibits anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic effects. In a study by Liang Z published in Molecules in 2016; it was seen that rosemaric acid inhibited increase in inflammatory cells and Th2 cytokines in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). It decreased mucus hypersecretion in the airway. Rosemary extract can delay the progression of airway inflammation. It suppresses allergic immunoglobulin and inflammatory responses of polymorphonuclear leukocytes. Sage, peppermint, oregano, lemon balm, and thyme also contain rosemaric acid.
Curcumin in turmeric can prevent the development and deterioration of the allergic airway inflammation. In a study by Chong L published in 2014 in Inflammation; it was seen that curcumin attenuates allergic airway inflammation by inhibiting NF-κB and Notch1-GATA3 signaling pathway. Turmeric is a common spice found in every household. A quarter spoon of turmeric can be consumed with water or milk. Other spices that are linked to healthy lung function are licorice, ginger, figs and garlic.
Honey is a traditional remedy for asthma and other lung diseases. It contains ethereal oil which soothes the mucous membranes and gives relief from wheezing and coughing. Honey has anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties. Honey can be taken directly with pinch of turmeric. It can be taken with warm water with ginger and cinnamon steeped into it.
Olives are rich in phytonutrients for example phenols, terpenes, hydroxycinnamic acids, flavones, anthocyanidins, flavonols, hydroxybenzoic acids and hydroxyphenylacetic acids. These make olives and olive oil powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents. A study proved that olive oil has anti asthmatic activity against milk induced leucocytosis and eosinophilia. While the presence of gamma-tocopherol in other oils has been linked to rising incidence of asthma; alpha-tocopherol present in olive oil and sunflower oil was associated with lower rates of asthma. Olive oil can be used as salad dressing or as cooking oil.
Figs are a popular home remedy for asthma management. It relieves asthma symptoms and makes breathing easy. Soak 3 to 4 dried figs in water and cover it for at least 8-12 hours. Eat the soaked figs and drink the water in which the figs were soaked..
Foods to Avoid
Any food that triggers allergy and asthma attack should be avoided. It is different for different people. However preservatives like sulfites, benzaldehyde and artificial colors are common triggers of allergy. Foods that are probable triggers of asthma are
►Herbs and spices
►Food additives and preservatives
►Excess magnesium is a risk factor for kidney stones
Depending on the body composition and the health conditions of the patient, some foods may become risk factors for different ailments. Therefore consult your dietician before consuming these foods.
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