Nutrients to help support children with asthma
diet can play a powerful role in managing your child’s asthma
Asthma in children is on the rise in developed countries around the world and questions have been asked whether diet is related to the condition. According to the National Asthma Council one in nine children suffer from asthma in Australia and 10% of the total population live with the condition.
Children today are consuming more fast and processed foods and less wholefoods, fruits and vegetables in their daily diet then even before. The Guardian newspaper recently reported younger teens were 40 percent more likely to develop severe asthma if they consumed fast foods like fries and burgers more than three times a week. Children around the age of 6 were 27 percent more likely to suffer from asthma with a similar fast food intake.
Perhaps a more permanent solution to managing asthma in our children is to take a look at what we are feeding them and incorporate foods that support better health and avoiding those that could trigger attacks.
Foods important for children suffering from asthma
Fruits and vegetables
Increasing your child’s intake of fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to nourish and nurture their health. Packed with minerals and vitamins including vitamin C, vitamin E and anti-oxidants, this food group will not only meet the nutritional needs they will also effectively support and cleanse your child’s immune system and may reduce the swelling in the lungs and inflammation.
Apples, kiwi fruit, spinach, garlic, avocados, broccoli and bananas are some of the best fruits and veggies for those suffering from asthma.
Check out the 2015 Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen list to see which ones you should buy organic!
Magnesium rich foods
Studies have suggested foods rich in magnesium can have a positive effect on moderate to severe asthma in children. This mineral is believed to relax muscles around the bronchial tubes treating constricted airways. Think flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, buckwheat and chicken or fish broth.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Upping the consumption of fish in your child’s diet will increase their Omega-3 fatty acid intake which are essential for good health as well as provide your child with fat-soluble vitamins and important minerals including iodine, selenium and magnesium.
Salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout and herring are among the fish containing the highest amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in flax seed oil, fish oils, eggs, dark green leafy vegetable, chia seeds and nuts such as walnuts.
Those suffering from severe asthma are often found with low vitamin D levels. Increase your child’s intake of vitamin D by simply spending more short amounts of time in the sun more often. While sunshine is the most bio-available source of vitamin D, you can find this nutrient in foods such as eggs, marine oils, fish and shellfish.
Foods to avoid in children with asthma
The consumption preservatives such as sulfites have been associated with severe asthmatic attacks in adults and children. Sulfites are used in processed foods to increase their expiry date and stop the growth of mould. You will find sulfites in many processed foods, Asian products, dried fruits, fresh and frozen shrimp and even some pharmaceuticals. If you are keeping clear of sulfites, look for ‘potassium bisulfite’, ‘sodium sulfite’, ‘sulfur dioxide’, ‘sodium metabisulfite’, ‘sodium bisulfate’ and ‘potassium metabisulfite’ on the ingredient list of your foods.
Hydrogenated Vegetable Fats
Evidence shows foods rich in industrially hydrogenated vegetable fats such as those in margarine and meat can also bring on the allergy symptoms.
Reducing your child’s intake of salt may see an improvement in asthma symptoms. A study at Indian University revealed those presenting with asthma who eat a low-salt diet, which means steering clear of processed foods, are able to exhale air more effectively and require asthma medication less often than those on a high-salt diet.
Bisphenol A (BPA)
A study conducted by Columbia University in 2013 showed a link with exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) in childhood with asthma. The study reported children presenting with higher levels of BPA at the ages of 3, 5 and 7 years old had a higher chance of developing asthma between 5 – 12 years old. While there is relativity little research into this relationship, avoiding BPA in plastics and tin cans may reduce the chances of your child developing asthma.
Diet can play a massive role in how your child’s body can manage and overcome the symptoms of asthma. A diet of whole, real foods free of cheap oils, preservatives, fried goods and packed with fresh fruits, veggies, fish and good quality fats is proving positive to reducing your child’s chance of developing asthma. Couple these changes with regular exercise and weight management, if necessary, will help you manage your child’s asthma symptoms long term.