Diet therapy

Diet may help exercise induced Asthma

Exercise induced asthma (EIA) occurs in approximately 90% of people with asthma.Traditionally it has been treated with medication. However, there is now convincing evidence that a variety of dietary factors can also be of help:

  • Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the form of fish oil
  • Antioxidants in particular flavones which are to be found in fruit and red wine
  • Sodium-restricted diets
  • Weight control

Fish Oil

Much has been written about the importance of fish oil to asthma treatment. If you experience gastro- intestinal discomfort or bad breath and would prefer to eat fish rather than taking fish oil supplements then include oily fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna in your lunches three times a week and one evening meal as well if you can.


Your mother was right when she told you to eat up your vegetables as the vitamins C, E and A (betacarotine) have an anti-inflamatory and antiallergic effect which helps asthma relief. The flavones and flavonoids are naturally occurring antioxidants found in fresh fruit and red wine may also be protective to asthma health if taken in moderation.

Sodium Restriction

Dietary sodium has been linked to the prevalence and severity of asthma. In general, the higher the salt intake within a population, then the greater the prevalence and severity of asthma. It appears that the sodium plays a role in airway responsiveness and studies of children have found that salty diets can increase the risk of asthma.

Weight Control

Studies have found that weight loss, regular exercise and a healthy diet can improve lung function. In studies of children reducing the hours of TV viewing from 5 down to 1 hour or less per day, including regular sporting activity and avoiding salt addition to food greatly reduced incidence of wheeze and asthma attack.

If you are interested in evaluating you or your child’s intake of these nutrients or would be interested as an athlete in managing sodium balance then contact us and we will be happy to help you.



About the author View all

Lea Stening

Lea is one of New Zealand’s leading paediatric dietitians and also specialises in Sports Nutrition. She has specialised in Paediatric Nutrition for 31 years and in 1985 was the first paediatric dietitian to enter private practice in New Zealand. Lea helps families through her private consultations, public lectures, newspaper and magazine articles as well as television and radio interviews. Read more »

View all posts by Lea Stening »


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