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Take a Deep Breath: Food and Asthma

Take a Deep Breath:
Food and Asthma

Which foods trigger asthma?
What if I get heartburn?
Do sulfites trigger asthma attacks?
What about food coloring?

If you have asthma and suffer from asthma attacks, you know the usual suspects: dust mites, furry pets, air pollution, and head colds. Maybe your asthma kicks in after you exercise. Any or all of these things might make you wheeze. But did you know that foods can trigger asthma attacks too? back to top

Which foods trigger asthma?
Your body is unique and may be sensitive to many different foods. If you are allergic to dairy products, nuts, or certain spices, it is best to avoid them. Food allergies can irritate your lungs and trigger asthma symptoms. And some girls with asthma have trouble breathing when there are cooking fumes in the air, especially when food is being fried. If fumes bother you, stay out of the kitchen when someone is cooking. back to top

What if I get heartburn?
Some girls with asthma get a burning pain just above the stomach after eating. This is called heartburn, and it is caused when excess stomach acid backs up into your esophagus. Severe heartburn can trigger asthma symptoms. If you get heartburn, avoid eating large meals. Don't lie down on the couch or go to bed right after you eat because that makes it easier for stomach acid to back up. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water, eat foods rich in fiber, and cut down on those fats at the top of the Food Guide Pyramid. Talk with your health professional if these tips don't help and you continue to have trouble with heartburn. back to top

Do sulfites trigger asthma attacks?
Sulfites are chemicals used to preserve foods, and they bother some girls with asthma. Sulfites are added to some dried fruits, cider, and fruit juices. You may also find them in instant potatoes and frozen French fries. Salad dressings and sauces you make from dried mixes often contain sulfites, as do most wines. It's easy to find out whether a food contains sulfites. Just check the Nutrition Facts label. When you eat out, ask the waitperson whether the vegetables, potato products, or canned foods have sulfites. If he or she doesn't know the answer, avoid these products if sulfites trigger your asthma symptoms. back to top

What about food coloring?
The food dye called FD&C Yellow 5 triggers symptoms in some people with asthma. Like sulfites, it must be listed on the Nutrition Facts label on the foods you buy. FD&C Yellow 5 is used in many different processed foods, including soft drinks, salad dressings, cheeses, seasoned salts, ice cream, sherbets, gelatin desserts, candy, puddings, cakes, and frosting. So read food labels and check with restaurants before ordering if this dye causes trouble for you. back to top

Last Modified Date: 4/4/2001
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