If you're the parent of a child with asthma, chances are you try a variety of things to help keep your child's condition under good control. The good news is that beyond peak flow monitoring and a medication regimen, there are many lifestyle choices you can make to help your child live a full and healthy life. One of these lifestyle choices is following a healthy diet.
Increase Fruits and Veggies and Cut Out Processed Foods
According to Healthline, many healthcare professionals believe that part of the reason
why asthma rates in children have increased over the past few decades is that children are eating fewer fruits and vegetables and more processed foods. Livestrong notes that, in particular, fast foods like hamburgers have been associated with worsening or more frequent asthma flare-ups. Processed foods with ingredients like hydrogenated oils and/or high fructose corn syrup are also suspected to make asthma signs and symptoms worse.
So what should kids be eating? WebMD notes that a diet rich in vitamins like C and E,
antioxidants like beta-carotene, flavonoids and minerals like selenium and magnesium
have all been associated with lower rates of asthma or improved asthma. So
introducing more foods like apples and oranges, sweet potatoes and spinach into your
child's diet (while challenging!) can help manage his or her condition.
Diet for Weight Loss if Needed
Childhood obesity is a growing problem and if your child has a higher body mass index (BMI) than is healthy, dieting to help with weight loss is also a great idea. Why?
Because, according to WebMD, the obesity is associated with more severe asthma
signs and symptoms, more missed days of school, and the need for more medications.
Healthline, however, reports that if a healthy weight can be maintained, it can greatly
help asthmatics to keep their condition under control and at the same time reduce
chances of other conditions like heart disease or diabetes.
Livestrong reports that weight loss is largely a matter of balancing the calories that your child takes in with the calories he or she burns through exercise and activity. However, it is important to discuss this issue with your doctor to find out what specific kind of diet is best for your child's needs.
Avoid Food Allergens
Food allergies and sensitivities are also something to consider when you are creating
an asthma-friendly diet. WebMD notes that while food sensitivities are common, a true allergy -- where the body's immune system reacts to proteins in foods like peanuts, milk or eggs -- is rare, only occurring in around 2% of the population.
However, both food allergies and sensitivities can trigger asthma attacks or make symptoms worse so avoiding them is important.
Apart from food allergens like peanuts, children with asthma can also have issues with artificial ingredients like sulfites that can trigger respiratory symptoms, according to Healthline. That is why organic food, which is free of these artificial ingredients, can be a safe choice for asthmatic children.
So, while there is no such thing as an "asthma diet", following the nutritional guidelines above can help you to control and even improve your child's condition. In addition to this, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and other whole foods that helps maintain a normal BMI and avoids food allergens can also improve your child's overall health.