The Truth About Asthma and Dairy

Milk. Butter. Cheese. Ice Cream. These are just a few popular dairy products that you may love. But if you suffer from asthma, they may also be on your "do not consume" list. This is because many people think that asthma and dairy have a strong negative relationship. Contrary to this assumption, though, some researchers have found that drinking whole milk and eating butter may actually improve your asthma symptoms. If you're confused by these conflicting theories, read on to learn more this controversial topic.

Fears about Asthma and Dairy

If you believe in the old school of thought that drinking milk or eating cheese causes your asthma symptoms, you've probably been taught that when people with asthma consume dairy products, it causes their bodies to create excess mucus in the airways and can make asthma symptoms worse.

It's precisely this idea that has scared a large number of asthmatics to make a conscious decision to avoid dairy all together. This concept also influences the majority of parents of asthmatic children, who feel compelled to their children away from this food group in order to prevent taking any risks with their conditions.

Dispelling Asthma and Dairy Concerns

To dispel this notion, though, scientists from Australia took a closer look at the asthma and dairy link. It's interesting to note that they couldn't find any relationship between dairy intake and bronchial symptoms that typically appear in an asthma attack. These findings were included in the January 1998 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Dairy Allergies are Rare

You may also be afraid that could be allergic to dairy products. This is a common concern among asthmatics, despite the fact that true food allergies, including to dairy, are actually quite rare.

Dairy Products Contain Important Nutrients

But while asthma and dairy poses little or no risk for most asthmatics (except for those who do truly suffer from a dairy allergy, of course), what should be more cause of concern is the fact that when you eliminate a food group, you put yourself at risk for health consequences due to missing nutrients. In the case of dairy products, these can provide important amounts of calcium, riboflavin, protein and vitamins A and B12, among other vitamins and minerals.

Possible Asthma and Dairy Benefits

Further, a study performed by researchers from the Netherlands, which was included in the Thorax Journal in July of 2003, examined the diet of 3,000 pre-school children and noted the relationship between full fat dairy products and asthma symptoms was quite positive. Interestingly enough, children who ate a diet containing whole milk products regular basis actually decreased their odds of getting asthma. In fact, dairy eaters were up to four times less likely to be diagnosed with this condition,

Researchers believe the reason for this unexpected benefit is because these dairy products contain fatty acids, which could help to head off the problem.

More Research is Needed

While more studies are needed to confirm these findings, the researchers do believe that asthmatics should be sure to get enough dairy in their daily diet. If the saturated fat theory does indeed play out, then more people will want to increase their intake of whole milk, butter and even cream to get the full protective effects.


The Journal of Asthma and Clinical Immunology

Thorax Journal