Foods That Are Bad for Asthma

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A close-up of soybeans in a bowl. (Image: hideous410grapher/iStock/Getty Images)

Wheezing and swelling (inflammation) are your body’s reaction to specific triggers that aggravate the lung. This is better known as asthma. There is no one cause of asthma: it can be hereditary, but triggers can vary between individuals. Food allergies may be one cause of asthma-like symptoms. Unless you have this type of allergy, foods are unlikely to cause asthma. However, some food choices are worth discussing with your doctor, especially if you experience breathing difficulties after consumption.

Food Allergies and Asthma Symptoms

Food allergies cause your immune system to react after eating certain foods. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, about 2 percent of American adults and 6 percent of children have this type of allergy. Technically, any food can cause an allergy. However, the most allergenic foods are soy beans, eggs, milk, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts. Symptoms of an allergic reactions to food varies; while hives and rashes are common responses, you may also have wheezing similar to asthma. The Cleveland Clinic reports that asthmatic symptoms from food allergies are most common in children under the age of five.

Possible Aggravating Additives

If you don’t have food allergies or allergic asthma, there is still a possibility that other components of food can cause wheezing and breathing difficulties. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the common food additive Yellow No. 5 (“tartrazine”) has been linked to food sensitivities. Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, may also trigger immune system reactions. Other potential asthma triggers may include benzoates, sulfites, salicylates and monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG. Such asthma triggers are uncommon; however, it’s worth discussing with your doctor if you notice increased symptoms after eating foods with these ingredients.

Gassy Foods and Stomach Fullness

It’s normal feeling too full after the occasional large meal. When it comes to asthma management, eating too much may cause breathing difficulties. This is because your full stomach places pressure on your diaphragm. One way to prevent this effect is to eat smaller, more frequent meals. You can also decrease stomach fullness and the chances of wheezing by limiting gassy foods. Examples include broccoli, beans, cauliflower, onions, garlic and sausage.

Help Before Your Next Meal

Know your asthma triggers to avoid them from causing uncomfortable symptoms. Your doctor can help you figure out any foods to which you may be allergic or sensitive. When it comes to food-induced asthma symptoms, refrain from consuming the triggers. Severe allergies can lead to a life-threatening reaction, known as anaphylaxis.

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