Asthma can become debilitating if not treated properly. And even if your child’s asthma is relatively well-controlled, you may notice periodic attacks if you aren’t careful about the foods they eat. Here are a few food choices that may worsen asthma, as well as alternatives that can help keep your little one feeling well.
Sulfites are a preservative found in many types of foods. You’ve probably heard of them being used in everyday foods, such as canned and fast foods, shrimp, and even dried fruits and vegetables. For most children with asthma, small amounts of sulfites are harmless. But if they ingest a large amount at a time, it may trigger a full-on asthma attack. The good news is that avoiding sulfites often results in a healthier diet overall. By focusing on eating fresh fruits and vegetables and fresh meats, you’ll dramatically reduce your child’s sulfite consumption. For most kids, the occasional visit to a fast food place won’t be harmful, but generally avoiding sulfites and processed foods and opting for foods without preservatives will often have a marked positive impact on their health. For example, you can visit a local bakery for fresh bread rather than buying a loaf from the grocery store.
Most of us are familiar with histamines—these are what the body produces during an allergic reaction. However, eating foods that contain high levels of histamines may be dangerous if your child has asthma. Taking in a large number of histamines at once may trigger asthma symptoms anywhere from mild breathing difficulty to a full asthma attack. Some of the most common sources of histamines overlap with sources of sulfites–preserved foods like canned items, fermented dairy products or cured meats are some of the major culprits. Nuts, chocolates, smoked products, and ketchup may also contain high levels of histamines. For many, certain histamine-laden products cause more problems than others. Keeping a food diary for your child may help you figure out which foods are asthma triggers. It’s also important to know what to do if your little one accidentally consumes a problem food. Certain types of therapy can assist them with breathing exercises to improve airway management. This can help them stay calm and keep airways open in the event they accidentally consume a high histamine product.
It may sound obvious to avoid foods you’re allergic to. But even very mild allergic reactions can become noticeably worse, and even dangerous, when asthma is involved. If you suspect your child has a food allergy, it may be a good idea to take them to an allergy doctor who can perform tests to make sure you know for sure what things your child should avoid eating. You might also be able to get an allergy test online. Most allergic reactions to food involve some level of breathing difficulty, and it’s possible for this type of breathing difficulty to trigger an asthma attack. If you know your child has food allergies—even mild ones—make sure to pay special attention to ingredients. It’s easier to assess the ingredients on packaged goods, but you’ll need to more vigilant when it comes to foods that aren’t labeled. It’s also important to always have a plan for when asthma compounds an allergic reaction. Having a plan in place will help your child avoid further complications.
While many may think of asthma as strictly a breathing difficulty, whole-body health can help reduce asthma symptoms and improve quality of life. By paying close attention to the food your child eats and emphasizing healthy, fresh choices, you’re likely to see a decline in symptoms and an improvement in their general well-being.
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