by Katelyn Schwanke
(last updated September 5, 2008)
Children and adults who have been diagnosed with asthma should avoid a variety of foods that can exacerbate asthma symptoms (coughing, wheezing, dizziness, shortness of breath) and contribute to obesity. Doctors and dieticians have compiled a variety of lists with a variety of foods to be avoided, but the general consensus says that shrimp, dried food, processed potatoes, wine and beer should all be avoided. All the foods on this list contain chemicals called sulfites that contribute to the respiratory discomfort experienced by asthmatics. Beyond these foods you may also need to avoid others that irritate your respiratory system specifically (these foods vary from person to person).
As previously mentioned, foods that contribute to obesity should be either avoided completely or consumed in moderation. Increasing rates of obesity correspond with increasing rates of asthma in the United States. The medical community is drawing a line between the two and have concluded that America's high-fat, high-sodium, high-sugar, low-fiber diet and low activity level is leading to this chronic respiratory illness. Children and adults alike spend less time in the great outdoors, breathe in less fresh air and spend more time sitting on the couch indulging in inactivity and high-calorie foods.
With an increase in fat tissue surrounding the chest it is difficult for the lungs to fill properly. By inhibiting the lungs, tubes called bronchioles became irritated and inflamed limiting the amount of oxygen that can pass through properly. When air cannot pass through the bronicholes properly you experience wheezing, coughing and other symptoms of asthma. An increase in the size or number of fat cells also contributes to the inflammation of the bronchioles and ultimately difficulty breathing. Inactivity, even without obesity, can contribute to frequency of asthma attacks because intercostal (between the ribs) muscles are not strengthened by cardiovascular activity; by participating in moderate physical activity you can strengthen intercostal muscles and allow your body to breath more easily.
Ultimately, one key to controlling your asthma is avoiding shrimp, dried food, processed potatoes, wine, beer (as well as those that make your symptoms worse) and foods that contribute to weight gain. Foods that contribute to weight gain include processed foods high in saturated fat, Trans fat and sodium. Even if you eat foods low in fat, if your intake of calories exceeds your output (exercise) you will likely experience weight gain. Go for a walk, eat some more vegetables and whole grains and you will find that your risk for experiencing symptoms will decrease.
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