Eating a plant-based diet is better for preventing and managing asthma, while dairy or high-fat diets can worsen asthma. This finding was from a review study by researchers with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The results were published in the journal Nutrition Reviews.
Asthma Sufferers Can Be Vulnerable to COVID-19
Asthma affects over 25 million Americans. During this time of the COVID-19 outbreak, it can make asthma sufferers vulnerable to the coronavirus. Asthma affects the lungs by inflaming the airways and making it difficult to breather.
High Fiber Foods Beneficial
In the review study, the researchers analyzed evidence related to diet and asthma. They found certain foods — including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other high-fiber foods–can be beneficial, while others — such as dairy products and foods high in saturated fat–can be harmful.
Plant-Based Diet Reduced Asthma Symptoms
One study they analyzed showed that asthma sufferers who ate a plant-based diet for eight weeks showed reduction in severity and frequency of symptoms. They also used less asthma medicine. Another study they reviewed showed asthma patients who ate a plant-based diet for one year showed improved vital capacity. Vital capacity is basically the measure of the volume of air patients can expel.
Based on their study review, the researchers suggest that a plant-based diet can help reduce systemic inflammation, which can exacerbate asthma. A plant-based diet is high in fiber and has compounds like antioxidants and flavonoids. Fiber has been shown to help improve some lung functions.
Dairy and Fatty Foods Can Worsen Asthma
On the other end, the researchers found that dairy products can increase the risk of asthma and worsen the symptoms. A study in 2015 showed that children who ate more dairy products increased their odds of developing asthma, compared to children who ate less dairy products. In another study, a group of children eliminated dairy and eggs from their diet for eight weeks. Twenty-two percent showed improvement in peak expiratory flow rate (a measure of how fast one can exhale). Children in the control group who did not eliminate the dairy and eggs showed a 0.6 percent decrease in peak expiratory flow.
Basically, a diet high in fats and dairy, and low in fiber, can make asthma symptoms worse.
Preventing and Managing Asthma Through Plant-Based Diet
“This groundbreaking research shows that filling our plates with plant-based foods–and avoiding dairy products and other high-fat foods–can be a powerful tool for preventing and managing asthma,” says Hana Kahleova, one of the study authors.
Base on this study, during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, asthma sufferers may want to consider avoiding dairy and fats, while eating a more plant-based diet.