Asthma and Diet: Foods That Can Help and Harm

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While medications and inhalers are commonly used to manage and control asthma symptoms, recent studies have shown that diet plays a crucial role in alleviating or exacerbating the condition. The foods we eat can either support lung health or trigger inflammation and sensitivities, impacting the severity and frequency of asthma attacks. In this article, we explore the foods that can help and harm individuals with asthma.

1. Foods that can Help

There are several types of foods that have been highlighted for their potential to benefit those with asthma:

Fruits and Vegetables:

Fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, have shown promise in reducing asthma symptoms. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, as well as berries, kiwis, and leafy greens, are excellent choices. These foods possess anti-inflammatory properties and may contribute to improved lung function.

Fatty Fish:

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Incorporating these fish into the diet can potentially reduce the risk of asthma attacks and improve overall lung health. If you’re not a fan of fish, alternatives like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts can provide similar benefits.


Garlic has long been hailed for its numerous health benefits, and its potential impact on asthma control is no exception. This pungent bulb contains components that help reduce inflammation in the airways, making it beneficial for individuals with asthma. Additionally, garlic possesses antimicrobial properties that can aid in preventing respiratory infections that may trigger asthma symptoms.

2. Foods that can Harm

In contrast, certain foods and ingredients have been shown to worsen asthma symptoms and increase the risk of attacks:

Dairy Products:

Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and ice cream, have been associated with an increased risk of asthma attacks in some individuals. The proteins found in dairy may contribute to the production of mucus in the airways, leading to congestion and potential breathing difficulties. If you suspect dairy exacerbates your asthma, it’s best to experiment with eliminating it from your diet and monitoring your symptoms.

Processed and Fast Foods:

Processed and fast foods are often high in unhealthy fats, sodium, and artificial additives. These components can trigger inflammation in the body and potentially exacerbate asthma symptoms. Moreover, these foods are commonly linked to obesity, which has been shown to worsen asthma conditions. Opting for homemade meals using fresh ingredients is a healthier choice for individuals with asthma.


Sulfites are preservatives often found in processed foods, wine, dried fruits, and certain condiments. For some individuals, sulfites can trigger asthma symptoms, including wheezing and difficulty breathing. Reading food labels and choosing sulfite-free alternatives can help minimize the risk of adverse reactions.


While diet alone cannot cure asthma, certain foods can have a positive impact on managing the condition, reducing symptoms, and improving overall lung health. Incorporating fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, and garlic into your diet may help alleviate asthma symptoms by reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system. On the other hand, it’s essential to avoid foods that have been associated with increased inflammation, such as dairy products, processed foods, and those containing sulfites. By making informed dietary choices, individuals with asthma can take an active role in managing their condition and improving their quality of life.