Asthma and Food

Food-triggered asthma is rare, occurring only among 6 percent to 8 percent of American children with asthma and less than 2 percent of adults with asthma.

For years it has been suspected that foods or food ingredients may cause or exacerbate symptoms in those with asthma. After many years of scientific and clinical investigation, there are very few confirmed food triggers of asthma. Sulfites and sulfiting agents in foods (found in dried fruits, prepared potatoes, wine, bottled lemon or lime juice, and shrimp), and diagnosed food allergens (such as milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish) have been found to trigger asthma. Many food ingredients such as food dyes and colors, food preservatives like BHA and BHT, monosodium glutamate, aspartame, and nitrates and nitrites, have not been conclusively linked to asthma.

The best way to avoid food-induced asthma is to eliminate or avoid the offending food or food ingredient from the diet or from the environment. Reading ingredient information on food labels and knowing where food triggers of asthma are found are the best defenses against a food-induced asthma attack. The main objectives of an asthmatic's care and treatment are to stay healthy, to remain symptom free, to enjoy food, to exercise, to use medications properly, and to follow the care plan developed between the physician and patient.

Reprinted with Permission from the International Food Information Council Foundation, August 1998

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