A regular diet of junk food is linked to more than just obesity. One recent study suggests eating fast food three or more times a week is linked with severe asthma, eczema and rhinoconjunctivitis (nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, red eyes) in children and teens.
Many scientists now believe Alzheimer’s is caused largely by the brain’s impaired response to insulin. Insulin regulates storage of glycogen in the liver and accelerates oxidation of sugar in cells.
Researchers investigated the brains of 54 corpses, 28 of which belonged to people who had died of the disease.
“They found that the levels of both insulin and insulin-like growth factors in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients were much lower than those in the brains of people who had died of other causes. Levels were lowest in the parts of the brain most affected by the disease.”
Researcher Gabriele Nagel, of the Institute of Epidemiology and Medical Biometry at Ulm University in Germany, concludes that fruits and vegetables are protective factors and fast foods are risk factors when it comes to our overall health.
More and more evidence mounts each day confirming that a “Mediterranean” diet, as well as consuming lots of fruits, vegetables and fish, is linked with the reduction of risks to a host of different diseases.
Here are 19 super foods with nutrient profiles that help to prevent asthma symptoms, courtesy of HealWithFood.org’s Guide to Fighting Asthma:
Avocados are well known for their contribution to beautiful skin, but these delicious creamy fruits can also be help alleviate asthma symptoms. Avocados are at the top of the list of foods with the highest concentration of glutathione, an unsung health promoting compound with widespread functions. Glutathione has been shown to protect cells against free radical damage and to detoxify foreign substances such as pollutants. Further, without glutathione other antioxidants would not be able not function efficiently.
Avocados are also a good source of vitamin E, particularly for people whose asthma is linked to a nut allergy (nuts are one of the most common sources of vitamin E). However, if you have been diagnosed with a latex allergy, you may want to be careful with avocados, particularly non-organically grown produce. A large body of literature suggests that people who are allergic to latex are often also allergic to avocados and other foods that may contain substances called chitinases. Organically grown avocados not treated with ethylene gas contain lower levels of chitinases.[sociallocker]
Including bananas in your diet may help you breathe easier. According to a British study, children who ate just one banana a day had a 34% lower chance of developing asthmatic symptoms such as wheezing. The results where not surprising considering that bananas are one of the best sources of pyridoxine, commonly known as vitamin B6. Pyridoxine plays a critical role in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), molecules that have been shown to help relax bronchial smooth muscle tissue.
#3: Broccoli Sprouts
Broccoli sprouts are true nutritional heroes and a great addition to your diet if you suffer from asthma. A recent study found that the study participants who ate broccoli sprouts for three days had an increase in antioxidant compounds that control the airway inflammation associated with bronchial asthma. The effect was most pronounced in those who ate the most broccoli sprouts. The control group, who received alfalfa sprouts instead of broccoli sprouts, showed no changes in their airway antioxidant levels. Available at many health food stores and grocery stores, broccoli sprouts make a great addition to salads, soups, salsa-topped dishes, and sandwiches.
The nutritional profile of spinach makes it an excellent health food and an effective anti-asthmatic food. One study with 68,535 female participants found that women with a high intake of spinach had a lower prevalence of asthma. This is not surprising considering that spinach features a host of important asthma preventing nutrients, including beta-carotene (spinach is one of the best sources of beta-carotene there is), vitamin C, vitamin E, and magnesium. It also has a substantial potassium content in proportion to its calorie content: a 100 calorie serving provides about 40% of the reference daily intake for this important anti-asthma mineral.
Regular inclusion of kiwi fruit in the diet has been shown to exert beneficial effects on children with respiratory symptoms associated with asthma. The protective effects of kiwi are linked to its high vitamin C content (a mere 2.3 ounces of chopped kiwis contain the reference daily intake for vitamin C!). One study found that in children eating the most citrus and kiwi fruit (5-7 servings per week) the incidence of wheezing was reduced by almost half, compared to children who ate the least of these fruits. The citrus and kiwi fruit were also shown to reduce shortness of breath, runny nose, and cough.
Turbo-charge your anti-asthma diet by adding flaxseeds to your breakfast cereal or yoghurt. Flaxseeds are loaded with asthma-alleviating minerals such as potassium and magnesium. These little, slightly nutty-tasting seeds are also an excellent source selenium, with one cup of flaxseeds providing more than 60% of the recommended daily intake for selenium. Furthermore, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
These essential fatty acids can fight asthma due to their anti-inflammatory properties. To reap most of flaxseeds’ health benefits, grind them before adding them to your food (electric coffee grinders are great for that purpose). Whole seeds pass through the intestinal tract largely undigested, which means that your body won’t get all the beneficial nutrients from flaxseeds if you use whole seeds.
Rosemary, a fragrant herb native to the Mediterranean region, contains rosmarinic acid, a plant polyphenol that may help alleviate asthma symptoms due to its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidant power of rosmarinic acid is believed to be even stronger than that of vitamin E. In addition, rosmarinic acid encourages cells to create prostacyclins, which help keep the air passages of the lungs open and thus promote easy breathing. Rosemary can be used to flavor fish, roast meats, and tomato sauces, but also fruits, especially oranges.
Buckwheat is considered a hypoallergenic food, which means that it is unlikely to cause allergic reactions. This is good news for asthma patients whose symptoms are worsened by food allergies and intolerances. In addition to being an unlikely allergen, buckwheat delivers an abundance of magnesium, a mineral that helps treat constricted airways by relaxing the muscles around the bronchial tubes. Buckwheat groats can be used to make breakfast porridge, and buckwheat flour (also known as beechwheat or saracen corn) can be used for making baked goods. Buckwheat groats contain only 92 calories per 100 grams and are loaded with protein, which makes them an excellent food also for those who are watching their waistline.
Garlic has been recognized for its healing powers since ancient times. Recent research has found garlic to be effective at maintaining cardiovascular health, preventing cancer, and reducing high blood pressure. But eating garlic on a daily basis may also be helpful for people with asthma.
The beneficial effects of garlic on asthma are partially due to garlic’s ability to inhibit the activity of certain enzymes that generate inflammatory substances. Additionally, garlic — especially fresh garlic — is a relatively good source of vitamin C and potassium. It is also a good source of selenium, with one cup of raw garlic providing almost 30% of the recommended daily intake for an average adult.
Said to have originated in the Mediterranean region, endives are veritable powerhouses of nutrition. If you can develop a liking for their bitter taste, endives are a great food to include in your diet, especially if you have asthma. Endives provide a good source of beta-carotene and vitamin C. They are also a good, low-calorie source of potassium. Endives can be used raw, for example in salads, or cooked.
#11: Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds, chock-full of anti-asthma nutrients, are a very good food for asthmatics to eat on a regular basis. These mild nutty tasting seeds are loaded with vitamin E, potassium, and magnesium. They are also a good source of selenium, with one cup providing more than a third of the recommended daily intake for this important mineral. Furthermore, sunflower seeds are among the seeds and nuts that are least likely to cause allergic reactions in people. When incorporating sunflower seeds into your diet, moderation should be practiced as these little seeds are very calorie-dense.
Studies show that apples possess some extraordinary properties that may provide protection against asthma. One study discovered that pregnant women who eat apples may be able to protect their child from developing asthma. Another study found that by drinking apple juice daily children could reduce their chance of suffering from wheezing by 50%.
These beneficial effects of apples may be linked to their high concentration of bioflavonoids, such as quercetin. Quercetin is known to possess strong anti-histamine, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. When buying apples, be sure to purchase organically grown fruit: together with peaches, conventionally grown apples top the list of fruits that contain the highest levels of pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
#13: Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are one of the oldest vegetables known to man. They are also one of the most nutritious vegetables and an excellent addition to your diet if you suffer from asthma. Sweet potatoes are one of the foods that are least likely to cause allergic reactions, which is great news since asthma is often linked to allergies.
What’s more, sweet potatoes contain plenty of vitamin C and potassium as well as unique root proteins which, according to preliminary studies, may have significant antioxidant properties. The pink, orange, and yellow varieties are also one of the most concentrated food sources of beta-carotene (the more intense the color, the more beta-carotene).
Ginger, one of the oldest spices in the world, is well known for its cold treating powers, but it may also help prevent and alleviate asthma symptoms. Its asthma fighting properties are thought to be attributable to gingerols, strong anti-inflammatory substances that also give ginger its distinctive flavor. Fresh ginger, which is said to be the most effective form of ginger, is available year round in the produce section of your local supermarket.
Turmeric, a spice that lends its yellow color to curries and many other foods, has long been used in traditional Asian medicine to treat asthma and many other conditions and diseases. In recent years, also western medicine has started to pay greater attention to this extraordinary spice. Recent research suggests that turmeric possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties. Although best known for its use in Indian style curries, turmeric can also be used to add flavor and color to fish, seafood, meat, rice, vegetable, and pasta dishes.
Tomatoes contain several extraordinary properties that make them exceptional at preventing asthma and alleviating asthma symptoms. Their most notable quality: they contain lycopene. In one study with 32 asthmatic adults, those who were given tomato extract rich in lycopene had a lower rate of lung inflammation than those who received a placebo.
When incorporating tomato products into your diet, be aware that lycopene from processed tomato products — such as tomato paste, tomate juice, and catcup — appears to be more bioavailable than lycopene from raw tomatoes. Further, lycopene is better absorbed by the body in the presence of beta-carotene. Coincidentally, tomatoes also contain beta-carotene! In addition to lycopene and betacarotene, tomatoes contain vitamin C and a substantial amount of potassium in proportion to their calorie content (a 100-calorie serving of tomatoes provides a third of the reference daily intake for potassium).
This relatively unknown member of the cabbage family is a nutritional powerhouse packed with vitamins and other phytochemicals that have been shown to alleviate symptoms associated with asthma. Not only is the superfood kale a great source of vitamin C, it is also one of the most concentrated dietary sources of beta-carotene (kale contains ten times the beta-carotene of broccoli).
As a result of its high content of vitamin C and beta-carotene as well as a number of other antioxidant phytochemicals, kale is one of the vegetables with the highest ORAC rating. ORAC, or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, measures foods’ ability to disarm free radicals, unstable molecules that cause contraction of airway smooth muscles. The tender young leaves of kale can be eaten raw, for example as a substitute for iceberg lettuce in salads. The beautiful green leaves of kale can also be transformed into a savory warm dish by sautéing the leaves and mixing them with chopped onions, crushed garlic and a little bit of extra virgin olive oil.
You’ve probably heard that carrots are good for vision, but did you know that they may also be helpful for people susceptible to asthma? In one study, women who ate the most carrots were found to have a 20% lower risk of asthma than women with the lowest intakes. These beneficial effects are likely to be linked to high concentration of beta-carotene in carrots, but also the vitamin C contained in carrots may play a role.
When buying carrots, choose carrots with the deepest, darkest orange color as they contain the highest levels of beta-carotene. Further, it is advisable to buy organically grown carrots rather than conventionally grown produce. According to research, conventionally grown carrots are among the 5 most contaminated vegetables in terms of pesticide and chemical content. (Note: Aside from being a top food choice for people with asthma, carrots offer a host of other benefits which are discussed in the article Health Benefits of Eating Carrots).
#19: Mustard Greens
Chock-full of antioxidants and nutrients, mustard greens can make an excellent addition to your diet if you are susceptible to asthma attacks. In addition to being one of the best sources of beta-carotene, they provide a good amount of vitamin C and vitamin E. The nutrients in mustard greens can scavenge free radicals that cause smooth muscle contraction and airway constriction in people with asthma. Moreover, they may aid in the breakdown of histamine. Mustard greens with their distinctly peppery flavor are available throughout the year and can be found in the produce section of your local supermarket.[/sociallocker]