Eat Your Veggies: Diet and Asthma Research

Last updated: June 2018

A new study suggests moms who eat more veggies, specifically leafy green ones, in their first trimester of pregnancy may help protect their unborn babies from asthma for years to come.1 The amounts of vegetables consumed by moms-to-be were not cited in the article, but was assessed via a food frequency questionnaire and analyzed by researchers.1 Moms who consumed the most vegetables in the first three months of pregnancy had babies who were less likely to wheeze by age two, cited the study.1 The results seem to be independent of which of these mothers also took folate supplements.1
However, this is just the most recent research done into the role of diet—specifically vegetables—in asthma.

Diet, veggies and asthma: The research

  • Unlike the increased consumption of vegetables in the study above, the Mediterranean Diet (lots of plant-based foods, fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes and whole grains) did not prevent wheezing developed before 1, 1.5, or 4 years of age.2
  • Fruit and vegetable intake has been suggested to be beneficial in early childhood (and beyond!) to protect against asthma.2 A study also suggests that fruit consumption may be of greater benefit.2
  • In other studies, however, high fruit and vegetable intake has been inconclusively linked to protective benefits from asthma—many studies show high correlation to asthma prevention with increased fruit and vegetable consumption, but others show little-to-no correlation.3 The variations in research are thought to be linked to race or genetics.3

Other tidbits on diet and asthma prevalence in kids

  • Increased vitamin D intake in pregnancy reduced asthma risk in children, suggests a study.2 Supplementing with fish oil in pregnancy is also suggested to decrease risk of childhood asthma.2
  • Breastfeeding is demonstrated to be at least somewhat protective against asthma and allergies2,4

General facts relevant to kids and adults with asthma

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages increase asthma risk if consumed more than twice per day.2
  • An August 2014 meta-analysis of overall diet and asthma suggested no correlation between non-specific dietary factors and asthma.5
  • Other research suggests an inverse relation between fruit and vegetable consumption and asthma severity.6 Meaning, the greater the fruit and vegetable intake, the less severe the asthma may be.6

The most current research applies to children, as preventative studies in adults are more difficult—and in most cases, diet is more varied, making comprehensive studies more difficult to analyze.2

Okay, look. I may be a vegetarian, but I’ll get it out of the way right here that I do not eat nearly as many vegetables as I should. Does that play a role in my asthma? Well… I should probably work on my veggie intake anyways for other reasons, but unfortunately, no asthma research is pushing me in that direction just yet.

The bottom line here, is eating a balanced, healthy diet can be helpful in both preventing asthma (especially in children), and managing weight to help manage asthma either worsened or caused by obesity. The Global Initiative on Asthma (GINA) also affirms the role a good diet plays in asthma control.2,4 And of course, you’ll feel more energetic and healthy, too—it’s okay to have a treat once in awhile, but it may be a good time to consider what role your diet could play in your asthma control. If you decide your nutritional intake needs a reboot, shift slowly, and consult a dietitian if you need help navigating the maze of nutrition information out there!

And if you need to work on several of these bullet points? You’re certainly not alone!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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