Exercise is a crucial component of any healthy lifestyle. Those who suffer from asthma, however, must be very careful in how they approach staying physically active. For asthmatics, the increased breath rate that goes along with physical exercise can stimulate inflammation in the airways, leading to mild to severe asthma attacks.
While the risk of attack depends on both the type of exercise and the severity of a person’s asthma, many asthmatics find that the disease limits their ability to be as active as they would like.
To prevent and relieve exercise-related attacks, those with asthma often turn to prescription medication. While this form of treatment can be extremely helpful, recent research is revealing another preventative treatment: antioxidants.
What are Antioxidants?
An antioxidant is not a thing in itself, but rather a property held by certain nutritional compounds that combat the process of oxidation within the body—a process that restructures atomic particles within the cells, creating unstable particles called free radicals. To neutralize themselves, free radicals steal electrons from stable atoms, starting a chain reaction of atomic instability that can damage the body on a cellular level. Oxidation and free radical damage have been linked to a wide variety of health problems, including heart disease, eye diseases, and cancer.
Antioxidant nutrients intercept the chain reaction of oxidative damage by stabilizing free radicals. Plant foods—especially fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, grains, seeds, and legumes—contain high concentrations of nutrients with antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants and Asthma
So how are antioxidants related to asthma and exercise?
The exact reason is not fully known at this point, but extensive research shows a measurable connection between antioxidant nutrient intake and the frequency and severity of asthmatic episodes.
One study published in Allergy, a peer-reviewed medical journal, reported that asthmatic patients who took a 30 mg dose of lycopene—an antioxidant nutrient abundantly found in tomatoes and watermelon—for one week experienced 55% less exercise-induced asthma than their placebo-administered counterparts.
Another study published by the Institute of Public Health in Cambridge, UK found that a sampling of patients suffering from asthma ate less fruits and vegetables and displayed lower levels of antioxidants vitamin C and manganese in their systems than an equally sized sample of non-asthmatics.
These studies are only two examples of a large body of scientific research supporting the link between increased antioxidant intake and decreased symptoms of asthma. And while a diet high in fruits and vegetables is good for all, those suffering from asthma can especially benefit from their antioxidant power.
How to up the Ante(oxidant)
Generally speaking, foods that are naturally dark or bright in color contain a high concentration and a wide variety of antioxidant nutrients. Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale, beets, blackberries, blueberries, artichokes, tomatoes, and walnuts are among the foods most celebrated for their antioxidant content.
According to the Allergy study, it only took 1 week of increased antioxidant intake to reduce the frequency of exercise-induced asthma. Start your day off with this tasty NutriBlast for one week to see if you experience the same!