Plant-Based Diets Can Help Manage Asthma, New Study Finds

A nutrient packed breakfast side dish with sweet potatoes, onions, red and yellow bell peppers and Italian parsley

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with asthma are at a higher risk of illness from the coronavirus. This is because "COVID-19 can affect your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs), cause an asthma attack, and possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease." Along with maintaining your routine asthma care plan, new research shows following a plant-based diet can help to manage symptoms. 

A paper published in the journal Nutrition Reviews found eating a plant-based diet can help prevent and manage asthma by reducing systemic inflammation. 

How plant-based diets affect asthma.

Researchers from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine evaluated data from several studies related to diet and asthma. 

"High fat intake and low fiber intake have been associated with airway inflammation and worsened lung function in asthmatic patients," the review said. 

Plant-based diets reduce those risks because they are naturally rich in high-fiber foods, like cruciferous vegetables and whole grains

Along with whole grains, the review suggested, "Fruit and vegetable consumption may reduce the risk of developing asthma," particularly when eating apples and oranges. This is likely due to the antioxidants and flavonoids, which seemingly have protective effects. 

One study showed, after following a plant-based diet for eight weeks, patients experienced less frequent and severe asthma symptoms compared to those who followed a standard diet. 

On the flip side, diets high in dairy or other saturated fats can increase the risk of asthma. The review cited a study published in 2015, which "showed a positive association between frequent dairy consumption and odds of developing asthma."

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What's the bottom line?

If you're considering a plant-based diet, we suggest stocking up on legumes like canned chickpeas, cannellini beans, and fresh produce. "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," said director of clinical research Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D.

Along with this diet change, though, don't forget to continue practicing the standard asthma precautions. The CDC encourages people with asthma to have the appropriate medical supplies at home. This includes prescription medications, like inhalers, as well as 30 days of necessary over-the-counter medications.

Along with taking your medication, washing your hands, and staying a safe distance from others are the best ways to protect against the coronavirus.

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