Open Accessibility Menu

The Role of Nutrition in Asthma and Allergy Management

The Role of Nutrition in Asthma and Allergy Management

If you have asthma or allergies, you may already know how important it is to avoid triggers like mold and pollen that can worsen your symptoms. However, did you know that certain foods can help you manage your condition?

That’s right—many healthy foods are loaded with nutrients that can reduce inflammation and improve your asthma and allergies. Certain foods can also strengthen your immune system so you can experience symptoms that are less severe. In some cases, it’s possible that your diet could make some of your symptoms stay away for good.

Here’s more about the role of nutrition in asthma and allergy management, and how to contact Lompoc Valley Medical Center if you need help managing one or both of these conditions.

How Could Nutrition Affect Asthma and Allergies?

Asthma affects more than 25 million people in the U.S. Seasonal allergies affect more than 25% of U.S. adults. Eczema affects 7.3% of U.S. adults and food allergies affect 6.2%.

Asthma and allergies are both chronic conditions that can affect your breathing and long-term respiratory health.

In asthma, inflammation and swelling in the airway can cause symptoms including:

  • Cough.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain.
  • Wheezing.

With allergies, the body overreacts to normal substances it sees as a threat to cause symptoms including:

  • Runny nose.
  • Watery eyes.
  • Sneezing.
  • Rash.

Given how inflammation and immunity play roles in asthma and allergies, it makes sense how foods with immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties could help you manage these conditions.

In 2020, an article in Nutrition Reviews looked at the role of nutrition in the prevention and management of asthma. Researchers learned that plant-based foods could improve asthma symptoms due to how they affected systemic inflammation and oxidation. The researchers also found that a diet low in animal products and high in fruits and vegetables was able to reduce free radical damage and immune responses involved in asthma.

In another study published in Nutrients in 2017, researchers looked at the effects of certain foods on allergic diseases and food allergies. They confirmed that allergic diseases are absolutely influenced by diet and that food could be used as a treatment for food allergies.

Also, some foods are known to worsen symptoms of asthma and allergies, such as foods high in sugar. Sugar contributes to system-wide inflammation that contributes to asthma. Sugar also stresses the immune system to worsen allergies.

Therefore, knowing which foods to eat and which to avoid can go a long way toward improving your asthma and allergies.

Which Foods Support Good Respiratory Health?

Any fresh, whole food is generally good for your overall health—including your respiratory health. This includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish.

In a study in Nutrition Reviews, researchers found that kids and adults who eat high amounts of fruits and veggies are at a 45% reduced risk of asthma than people who eat small amounts.

In all, researchers have found that plant-based foods have unique properties that make them ideal for lung health.


Beets are known for being high in nitrates. Nitrates are compounds that relax your blood vessels and increase oxygen uptake. Some athletes, such as runners, will eat beets one to two hours before their workouts in an effort to enhance their performance.

A study in Nitric Oxide shows that beets can improve lung function and reduce blood pressure in people with lung conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Even the greens of beets are loaded with nutrients that support good respiratory health. Vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants are some of the many nutrients in beetroot and beet greens.


Apples are high in antioxidants and compounds called phytochemicals. Phytochemicals can reduce your risk for illness and disease. They can also improve your lung function and symptoms of asthma.

In a study in Advances in Nutrition, researchers looked at the effects of apples on asthma. They reported that the antioxidants in apples can reduce inflammatory reactions in asthma. They concluded that people who eat apples generally benefit from better overall lung health.


The main active compound in turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin has long been known for its anti-inflammatory effects.

Eating turmeric has the potential to reduce the body’s inflammatory response to asthma and allergies. This spice is generally used in Indian and South Asian cuisine. However, it can be added to many soups, stews, chilis, and teas to improve your overall health.


All types of peppers are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can ward off free radicals that contribute to inflammation.

Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers are found to have the highest amounts of vitamin C. Fortunately, any pepper may help reduce your asthma symptoms and allergies.


Berries contain high amounts of anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is an antioxidant and pigment found in many plant foods. It has powerful anticancer, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory effects. A study in the journal Food Chemistry also says that anthocyanin can also protect lung tissue from oxidative damage.

Any type of berry can promote good lung health, but the darker the berry, the richer it may be in anthocyanin. Try to eat blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries to reap the benefits of better lung health.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are high in magnesium. This mineral is great for lung health due to the way it relaxes the muscles in your lungs and expands the airways to improve airflow.

In a study in the European Respiratory Journal, researchers looked at the effects of various foods on asthma. They found that people with asthma who ate the highest amount of nuts and seeds had fewer asthma attacks than those who ate far lower amounts.

Most nuts and seeds have positive effects on lung health and asthma. Some of the best nuts and seeds to include in your diet are:

  • Walnuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Flaxseeds

What Are the Best Supplements for Respiratory Health?

Supplements can provide you with the right amount of nutrients you need for good lung health if you cannot get them from diet alone. Here are some of the top supplements for asthma and allergies.

Vitamin C

This powerful antioxidant can reduce cellular damage—including that in the lungs. It can also boost your immune system and reduce your risk for lung diseases.

Citrus fruits, bell peppers, and tomatoes are foods with the highest amounts of vitamin C. If you can’t get enough vitamin C in your diet alone, take supplements that provide between 75 and 90 mg a day.


Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce symptoms of asthma. Many studies show that low omega-3 intake is linked to a higher risk of asthma in both kids and adults. One study in particular showed that people who eat high amounts of omega-3s are able to better control their asthma and don’t need to rely as much on their inhalers.

Great sources of omega-3s are fatty fish, nuts, and avocados. However, many people cannot get enough omega-3s in their diets alone and usually need supplementation. When buying omega-3 supplements, look for brands that provide 250 to 500 mg of combined EPA and DHA every day.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps your immune system stay strong. It also reduces your risk for disease and illness. Results from several studies show that vitamin D has protective benefits against lung conditions including COPD and asthma.

For instance, a study in Scientific Reports shows that vitamin D is linked to improved overall lung function. Another study in Genetics and Molecular Research shows that vitamin D deficiency is more common in people with asthma than in people without asthma.

If you have asthma or allergies and are deficient in vitamin D, look for supplements that contain between 6,000 and 10,000 IU.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E contains a compound called tocopherol. In people with asthma, tocopherol is shown to reduce coughing and wheezing. Vitamin E is also shown to have multiple antioxidative and anti-inflammatory actions that can help improve symptoms of asthma, according to a study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Great food sources of vitamin E are almonds, Swiss chard, and broccoli. If you need a vitamin E supplement, look for brands that provide 15 mg or 22 IU a day.


Magnesium can boost your lung function by helping your lung muscles relax and reducing inflammation. Many people with lung conditions are found to be deficient in magnesium and could benefit from taking supplements.

Dark leafy greens and whole grains are great sources of magnesium. So are beans and lentils.

If you need to start taking magnesium supplements, look for brands that provide you with the right dosage based on your age and gender.

Males between the ages of 19 and 30 need 500 mg a day, and females in this age group need 310 mg a day. Males over age 31 need 420 mg a day, while females 31 and older need 320 mg a day.

Talk to your doctor before starting any new nutritional supplements. Some people may need more or less of the above nutrients a day based on their health status and on medications they may be taking. Your doctor can also recommend quality brands of supplements.

Respiratory Health Services At Lompoc Valley Medical Center

Lompoc Valley Medical Center provides comprehensive evaluation, treatment, and guidance on nearly every health condition, including asthma and allergies. If you need treatment for your respiratory condition, contact us today at (805) 737-3382 to request an appointment and to learn more about our many healthcare services.