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Can a High-Fiber Diet Protect Against Asthma?

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Asthma sufferers may find many of their asthma attacks are triggered by allergic reactions. In fact, more than 60 percent of the asthma patients in the United States suffer from allergic asthma. This type of asthma can be controlled with a combination of a rescue inhaler for emergencies, an asthma medication such as Advair and an oral antihistamine. Some patients, however, may also be interested in increasing their immunity to allergens through diet. If exposure to an allergen triggers a less severe allergic reaction — or no reaction at all — patients may experience fewer asthma attacks over time. New research suggests a link between a high-fiber diet and reduced occurrences of allergic asthma symptoms. While adding fiber to your diet will not totally prevent asthma episodes, depending on the type of asthma you suffer from, it may reduce the number of attacks you experience per month or per year.

Effects of Increased Fiber on the Body

When digested, high-fiber fruits and vegetables are often fermented by gut bacteria, which converts the fiber to short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids can enhance the development of immune cells in the bone marrow. This in turn increases immunity to some allergens. Researchers in Switzerland noted mice who were fed high-fiber diets experienced a dramatic increase in immunity to allergens, while mice who were fed low-fiber diets had a significantly stronger allergenic reaction and experienced more mucus growth in their lungs. The research suggests increasing the amount of fiber in your diet may help your body fend of allergic reactions more effectively. This research is especially interesting for parents of children who suffer from allergic asthma, as parents may be able to reduce the frequency of severe attacks simply by adding more fiber to their children’s diet. This option may be more appealing to parents of asthmatic children than reducing aerobic exercise or increasing asthma medication. It’s an inexpensive — yet effective — way to reduce the frequency of asthma symptoms.

Boosting Dietary Fiber

If you are interested in boosting the amount of natural fiber in your diet, consider fruit and vegetable sources first. While whole wheat grains may have additional fiber, they also can be higher in calories. Conversely, fruits and vegetables contain a high amount of dietary fiber and are low in calories. It may be easier than you think to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption. For example, you can add fruit to your morning cereal, oatmeal or yogurt, substitute fries for a side salad with your lunch or opt for an extra serving of vegetables at dinner. You should ideally aim for five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day, as well as a variety of types and colors. When possible, choose produce that is unprocessed and does not contain any added sugar, salt, flavorings or sauces. For instance, steamed green beans are low calorie and high in fiber, but green bean casserole may not be the healthiest option. While fresh fruits and vegetables are appealing, they may be expensive when they are out of season in your area. If this is the case, the vegetables in the frozen section of your local grocery store are also an excellent option. In fact, as this produce is frozen almost immediately after being harvested, it may have more vitamins and nutrients than fresh produce. For busy cooks, frozen bagged vegetables that can be steamed in the microwave are an easy way to add a healthy side dish to dinner. Bagged salads, meanwhile, may make an excellent addition to a lunchtime meal.

Methods for Managing Allergic Asthma Symptoms

asthma4If you suffer from allergic asthma, adding fiber to your diet is only one potential solution. Improving your diet may help you boost your long-term immunity, but it will not prevent an imminent asthma attack or eliminate your need to take allergy medication or asthma medication. It may, however, reduce the total number of asthma attacks you experience per year. You’ll need to continue to visit your doctor for medication to control your allergy symptoms and your asthma symptoms. Many patients find relief from a combination of oral antihistamines, a preventative asthma medication, a steroid medication such as Advair, and a rescue inhaler. Some patients need only one of these medications, while others need multiple medications to manage their asthma symptoms. If your asthma is not being well controlled currently, consult your doctor to learn about the medication options available to you. Asthma that is under control may not affect your life on a day-to-day basis, but uncontrolled asthma can be a medical emergency.   About the Author: Dr. Rodney Sewell has worked as a medical professional for nearly two decades. He writes on various trending topics in his field when time permits.   Asthma image by NIAHD from Flickr’s Creative Commons Produce image by Carlos Porto from  

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