Foods and Supplements for Asthma Control

Eating a balanced diet high in nutrients is a crucial step to manage asthma and keep your immune system working at its best.

Foods for Respiratory Health

While it's important to follow your asthma action plan and take your medications as directed, try adding some foods and supplements into your diet that can help keep asthma in check.

These five simple steps will bring health benefits:

1. Load up on fruits and vegetables.
Researchers studied a group of people following the Mediterranean diet (an eating plan that emphasizes fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and healthy fat) and found that these participants had better asthma control than their counterparts. The fresh fruits and vegetables have anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce swelling and inflammation in the lungs. They can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which can help control asthma.

2. Use fish oil supplements for lung health.
When you supplement asthma control efforts with fish oil, you're adding a valuable source of omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your health and lungs. A study published in the Chest Journal revealed that people with exercise-induced asthma who added fish oil into their menus were able to reduce airway constriction and as a result, used less of their asthma medications. This finding is important on two levels, since it means that fish oil can help manage asthma and can also be a strategy to reduce the risk of side effects from asthma medications.

3. Eat an apple a day to keep asthma at bay.
You know that apples are good for you, but did you know that they can reduce your risk of experiencing an asthma attack? The benefit comes from the powerful antioxidants that are contained in the fruit's peel (especially in red apples) and provide a natural antihistamine and inflammatory effect that can help allergies and asthma. A study included in the American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine found that participants who ate apples twice a week had as much as a third lower risk of developing asthma.

4. Go heavy on milk, eggs, and fish to get more vitamin D.
People with more serious forms of asthma are often weak on vitamin D, so choosing foods high in this vitamin may provide real benefits. Another easy way to boost your vitamin D levels is by spending a few minutes soaking up the sun's rays without using sunscreen. (Just be sure to keep your unprotected sun time brief so you don't trade in one health problem for another one.)

5. Add more spice to your life.
The vitamin C contained in hot chili peppers is an antioxidant that fights inflammation. Eating spicy foods for respiratory health may help clear mucus caused by allergies and asthma. Other sources of vitamin C include:

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Guava
  • Bell pepper
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Kiwi
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries

If you don't get enough from the foods you eat, consider taking vitamin C supplements. Some researchers believe this can help keep the airways working well and may even help minimize wheezing, but more studies are needed to confirm these benefits.




"How to Boost your Immune System." Excerpted from The Truth About Your Immune System. Harvard Health Publications, n.d. Web. 7 Dec. 2011.

Mickleborough, Timothy et al. "Protective Effect of Fish Oil Supplementation on Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction in Asthma."  CHEST Journal 129 (1) (Jan. 2006): 39-49. Web. 8 Dec. 2011.

Shaheen, Seif O. et al. "Dietary Antioxidants and Asthma in Adults: Population-based Case-Control Study." American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 164 (10) (Nov. 2001): 1823-1828. Web. 8 Dec. 2011.