Does the idea of eating more fats get you short of breath? Well, that might be the problem. It turns out, for the 25 million people who suffer from asthma, fat may be a helpful, healthful tool for the prevention of asthma attacks.
But before you go diving face-first into a bucket of fried chicken, it’s important to know what kind of fat is the truly healthful kind. While it is best to avoid artery-clogging trans fats or inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, increasing your intake of Omega 3 fatty acids has been shown to reduce the inflammation associated with asthma and other chronic autoimmune diseases.
Reducing Inflammatory Foods
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Eating too many “bad” fats has been shown to increase inflammation throughout the body, increasing your risk of suffering an asthma attack. These fats, known as Omega-6 fatty acids and trans fats, should be reduced and eliminated from your diet.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Omega-6 fatty acids are fine in small doses, as long as the amount ingested is balanced by an equal intake of Omega-3s. The Standard American Diet, however, contains far more Omega-6 fatty acids than Omega-3s. This imbalance is widely accepted as a contributing factor to the high incidence of inflammatory autoimmune diseases within the American population.
Foods high in Omega-6 fatty acids include animal meats (especially red meat), egg yolks, and popular cooking oils like safflower, grapeseed, and corn oil. Those with asthma and autoimmune disease should limit their intake of these foods to 1 to 2 servings a day.
While Omega-6 fatty acids can be enjoyed in moderation, trans fats should be completely eliminated from one's diet, especially in those who suffer from asthma or any other chronic inflammatory disease.
Trans fats do not occur naturally. They are artificially created by adding hydrogen atoms to liquid vegetable oils in a process known as hydrogenation. This keeps the oils solid at room temperature, increasing the shelf life of fatty packaged foods that would otherwise spoil. While hydrogenated oils are good for processed foods, they wreak havoc on the body when ingested. Increased consumption of trans fats has been linked to higher instances of heart disease, diabetes, and inflammation, and emerging research specifically links trans fats to increased risk of asthma attacks in asthma patients.
Many packaged and processed foods contain trans fats. Scan the ingredient list before buying packaged cereals, cookies, crackers, chips, etc, and eliminate any products made with partially hydrogenated oils. Also avoid fried food, pies, and any high fat food made with shortening.
How Omega-3’s Work
Omega-3 fatty acids reduce chronic inflammation throughout the body by blocking an enzyme that signals the immune system to engage an inflammatory response. Because asthma is an inflammatory disease of the lungs, increasing the intake of Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can help reduce inflammation in the airway and expand lung capacity.
Increasing Omega-3s in the Diet
Foods that contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids include flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, salmon, sardines, non-GMO soybeans, tofu, avocado, and tuna. Adding Omega-3 rich foods to your diet is easy with the NutriBullet (Note: We do not recommend adding fish in your NutriBlasts. There is no amount of fruit that can mask that flavor).
Click here for a healthy (fish-free) NutriBlast recipe for asthma symptom relief!