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Can Fast Food Trigger Asthma Symptoms?

Can Fast Food Trigger Asthma Symptoms?

A new Respirology review and analysis of published studies reveal a link between fast food consumption and “an increased likelihood of having asthma, wheeze, and several other allergic diseases such as hay fever, eczema, and rhino-conjunctivitis.”1

Sixteen studies were analyzed, with hamburgers having the most association with these allergic diseases. The authors did conclude that additional studies are needed, but I think this is a good start to show that diet can impact asthma more than we previously thought. The inflammation caused by eating fast and processed foods contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It seems logical that lungs could also be affected since asthma is inflammation of the airways.

We all know that fast food is not healthy for us. So why does the average American eat fast food three times a week?

Fast food is easy and cheap

It is easy to see the appeal of fast food. It’s affordable and available everywhere. Hitting the drive-through is so much easier than packing lunch or cooking dinner, and sometimes it is the best option for families with tight budgets or busy schedules. And quite frankly, most of it is delicious. Why is it so tasty? Because the combination of fat, sugar, and salt is irresistible. This combo increases our cravings for fast food. So, how can we eat healthier without breaking the bank and spending hours in the kitchen?

Make your burgers and fries at home

I love a good burger and fries at a restaurant with friends. I also know that will more than likely lead to overeating which will cause a migraine or asthma symptoms. Instead of giving it up completely, I invite friends over for a burger night. Here are my tips and recipes on how to enjoy burgers and fries without giving up any flavor or fun!

  • Mix your hamburger meat

    This way you can control the fat and salt content. My favorite mix is 75% lean ground beef, 25% pork, mixed with a beaten egg, panko breadcrumbs (just enough to hold the mixture together), garlic and onion powder, and black pepper. You can add grated or diced onion, Worcestershire sauce, a little tomato paste or any seasonings you like.

  • Make small slider patties

    I make small sliders instead of big burgers, which means I eat less and reduce my calorie intake. The smaller patties can also be baked instead of fried or grilled. Skip the bun. Instead of buns, I wrap the sliders in lettuce. If you love the bun, serve the burger open-faced and skip the top bun: place the burger on the bottom half of the bun on a plate and top with fresh greens, like raw spinach or arugula.

  • Add fresh toppings

    Condiments like mustard and ketchup will increase the sugar and calorie content of your burger. Top your burgers with fresh salsa, tomato, and greens. Add avocado or guacamole. I love a runny egg on top, fried in omega-rich avocado oil. A slice of cheese will add flavor and protein.

  • Bake sweet potato fries

    What’s a burger without fries? Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin K and calcium, which makes sweet potato fries much healthier than regular fries. They are delicious and easy to make: peel and cut sweet potatoes into ½ inch sticks. Drizzle with olive oil and mix to coat. Toss with paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Spread potatoes in one layer onto a sheet pan, bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Turn over and bake for another 10+ until tender.

Add healthier foods to your diet

If fast and processed foods are just a fact of life for you right now, that’s OK! Focus on adding healthier food to your diet. For instance, apples are one of the healthiest foods you can eat since they are full of fiber and antioxidants. They are portable, inexpensive, come in many different varieties and are available year-round.

How often do you eat fast food? Do you have a favorite home version of fast food? Share in the comments below!

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.

  1. Wang CS, Wang J, Zhang X, et al. Is the consumption of fast foods associated with asthma or other allergic diseases? Respirology, 2018;23(10):901-913. doi: 10.1111/resp.13339


  • mcadwell
    5 months ago

    I’ve found my corn allergy is what’s causing my breathing difficulty. Cutting out corn, which is difficult since it seems to be in EVERYTHING, has made breathing much easier.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi mcadwell, and thanks for chiming in here in response to Lorene’s article. You must feel so much better (and relieved) to have been this diligent about making sure to avoid corn. The payoff clearly is that you’re breathing has become so much better without being exposed to corn. Keep up the good work! We appreciate your input.
    Leon (site moderator)

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