Asthma is a serious disease that causes difficulty breathing. An acute attack may lead to death if not promptly addressed. Preventing asthma flares is the best approach, and a combination of medications, avoiding environmental triggers and maintaining overall health can help to accomplish that. Eggs do not directly benefit those with asthma, but they do supply vitamin D, which may be protective to asthmatics. On the other hand, eggs can make asthma worse in those who are allergic.
Asthma is caused by a two-step process that leads to inflammation and constriction of the airways. For unclear reasons, the immune system of an asthmatic reacts to unusual triggers that do not cause inflammation in most people. Triggers may be inhaled particles like dust or environmental stimuli such as cold air. During an acute asthma attack, the airways constrict, becoming smaller in addition to being inflamed. These two processes combine to shrink airway passages, making it difficult to breathe.
Eggs and Immune Health
Eggs can be a healthy part of a well-balanced diet. The protein content of a serving of eggs is comparable to beans and cheese, and they are carbohydrate-free. Eggs do contain some fat and cholesterol. A well-balanced diet is essential for proper functioning of the immune system, and as part of a healthy diet, eggs can play a role in maintaining immune balance. As of 2011, there is no evidence to suggest that eating eggs specifically will improve asthma symptoms or severity.
Eggs, Vitamin D, and Asthma
According to Dr. James Li, a Mayo Clinic asthma specialist, eating eggs can improve asthma because it provides Vitamin D. A 2009 study published in “American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine” found that children with asthma who also had low vitamin D levels were more likely have severe asthma symptoms. Conversely, asthmatics who had high vitamin D levels were less likely to be hospitalized.
Egg Allergy and Asthma
People with asthma may not realize that food allergies can make asthma symptoms worse. A 2011 study by Gaffen and others found that egg allergy was a risk factor for asthma. In this type of food allergy, an affected person may not have hives or anaphylaxis, but they may have an increase in the airway inflammation, setting them up for more frequent and more severe asthma attacks.
- “Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 18th edition.”; Chapter 254: Asthma; Barnes Peter J, 2012
- Common Sense Health.com; High Protein Foods List for a High Protein Diet
- “American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine”; Serum Vitamin D Levels and Markers of Severity of Childhood Asthma in Costa Rica; John M. Brehm et al.; May 2009.
- “Clinical Pediatrics”; Tree nut allergy, egg allergy, and asthma in children. Gaffin JM et al.; February 2011.