Asthma is a respiratory condition, where airways become swollen and narrow and produce extra mucus. This condition can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. While some kids put up with a mild form of asthma, in others, the condition can be acute and chronic, hampering their daily routine. It can sometimes lead to a life-threatening asthma attack as well.
Asthma’s symptoms cannot be cured but it can only be controlled with time and with inhalers. For a toddler who is wheezing, it is also essential to know what kind of diet to follow. So, let’s take a look at the signs and symptoms first, which is necessary for appropriate treatment.
There are different types of asthma:-
- Allergic asthma- This is the most common type of asthma, and generally occurs in 90% of kids. It is allergy-induced asthma, triggered by any airborne substance, such as pollen, mould, spores, cockroach waste, or particles of skin and dried saliva shed by pets.
- Occupational asthma- It gets triggered by workplace irritants, like paints, chemicals, gases, solvents, and dust.
- Exercise-induced asthma- This gets worse when the air is cold and dry.
Symptoms of asthma might vary from one child to another. Some might have frequent asthma attacks and some others might show symptoms only at certain times - such as during exercising.
Asthma signs and symptoms include:
- Breath shortness
- Chest tightness and pain
- Trouble in sleeping due to shortness of breath, coughing
- A whistling or wheezing sound during exhaling
- Coughing or wheezing attacks that get worse with a respiratory virus, such as cold or flu
List of foods that help in respiratory health
There is no specific food that can cure asthma but making adequate changes in the diet will help reduce symptoms in your child. According to dieticians, a healthy and varied diet plan can be beneficial for asthmatic kids. It is crucial to maintain a proper food log too, to understand the link between diet and symptoms better. It has been noticed that children with asthma who are overweight take longer time to respond to the treatment during hospitalization. Therefore, it is important to follow a healthy diet to maintain a healthy weight.
Below is a list of the best and worst foods for children with wheezing.
Foods that help
- Apples - Kids who consume at least 2 to 5 apples a week show 32% lower risk of asthma than those who eat less, according to a study. This can be due to the flavonoids present in the fruit, especially khellin, which is known to open up airways.
- Musk melon (kharbuja) - This is one of the best foods for children’s wheeze, as it contains vitamin C and potent antioxidants that prevent lung damage by fighting free radicals. In Japan, a study was conducted in preschools, which showed that those who have the highest intake of vitamin C are least likely to suffer from asthma. Vitamin C is also abundant in veggies and fruits like brussels sprouts, broccoli, tomatoes, kiwi fruit etc.
- Carrots and leafy vegetables- Carrot has beta-carotene as an antioxidant, which is known to reduce the incidence of exercise-induced asthma. Green leafy vegetables also have vitamins; minerals and folate, which can reduce asthma attacks.
- Coffee and black tea- These have caffeine, which is a bronchodilator, and may improve airflow.
- Flax seeds- High in omega-3 fatty acids as well as magnesium, these seeds are beneficial for asthma as they relax the muscle surrounding the bronchi.
- Garlic, ginger and turmeric- These have anti-inflammatory properties. Allicin (garlic) is antioxidant in nature, which might help in asthma. Ginger relaxes airways and turmeric has curcumin that may help to reduce the inflammation in asthmatic airways,
- Avocados, tomatoes, pomegranate, and berries- All these contain important antioxidants like glutathione (avocadoes) and have monosaturated fat too, which is good for allergic children. Tomatoes and pomegranates can relax airways and reduce inflammation in lungs. Berries have fibre, vitamins and important inflammation-fighting properties that help control allergic reactions in children.
- Eggs- Some children are allergic to eggs, and so it is important to get a blood test done to avoid further complications.
- Peanuts- Those who have allergic asthma should avoid peanuts, as studies show that many asthmatic children with peanut allergy suffer from an asthma attack.
- Salt- This is another one of the worst foods for children’s wheeze, as it can contribute to inflammation by fluid retention. Thus, a lower intake of sodium and processed foods is recommended.
- Shellfish- Most asthmatic children are allergic to shellfish, crab, crayfish, lobster, and shrimp dishes. Hence, they are best avoided.
As mentioned above, asthma cannot be treated permanently, but frequent occurrence and allergic attacks can be avoided in children, if they consume a variety of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. You can also consult a doctor for better guidance regarding their diet.