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Asthma and food

Most people with asthma don't have to follow a special diet, but in some cases certain foods can make asthma symptoms worse.

According to Asthma UK, these include:

  • Eggs
  • Cow's milk
  • Peanuts
  • Fish
  • Royal jelly products
  • Yeast products
  • Some food colourings and preservatives

Food preservatives, colourings and asthma

Food preservatives and colourings, sometimes referred to as E numbers, that may trigger asthma symptoms include:

  • Tartrazine colouring (E102), found in many foods and several medicines.
  • Benzoic acid (E210) preservative, found in some fruit products and soft drinks.
  • Sodium metabisulphite (E220-227), found in wine, home-brewed beer, fizzy drinks, some prepared meats and prepared salads.

Symptoms of food allergies and asthma

Some foods, colourings and preservatives may trigger asthma symptoms or make them worse. Some people may also experience hives, rash, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

It may help to keep a food diary to track what's causing allergic or asthma reactions.

Talk to your doctor if you have concerns. Allergy testing may be recommended to confirm a food allergy.

What do I do if I have food allergies and asthma?

Avoid the food trigger. Try not to come into contact with the food you are allergic to. Avoiding food triggers can be challenging though. It is important to always read food labels and if you are eating out, ask how foods are prepared.

Talk to your doctor about allergy injections to help de-sensitise the body to allergy triggers.

Are some foods beneficial for asthma?

While some foods can make asthma symptoms worse, there's some evidence other foods may help protect the body against asthma and possibly improve lung function.

Dutch researchers found that eating more fruit and vegetables could help with healthy lung function. Vitamin C and E may also help reduce inflammation in the lungs.

A healthy balanced diet, with 5-a-day portions of fruit and veg may also help the body fight off colds and flu, which are known to make asthma worse.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on May 17, 2017

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