What drinks are good for Asthma?

Introduction

Asthma is a chronic disorder, in which the airways respond to particular triggers, causing swelling and inflammation. As a consequence, it becomes difficult for air to move through the airways, making breathing uncomfortable and sometimes difficult. Drinks with anti-inflammatory qualities may therefore alleviate discomfort. Some beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects on the airways, while others may be asthma triggers. This will be discussed below.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung disorder, in which your airways constrict and swell, causing excess mucus to be produced, making breathing difficult and resulting in coughing, a whistling sound (wheezing) as you exhale, and/or shortness of breath. In the UK alone, 5.4 million individuals are now getting asthma treatment: 

For some individuals, it is a minor irritation. But for others, it could be a severe issue disrupting everyday activities and has the potential to result in a life-threatening asthma attack. Since the severity of an individual’s asthma symptoms often changes over time, it's critical to collaborate with a doctor to monitor the signs and symptoms, and thus allow adaptation of treatment as required.

Symptoms 

Although asthma cannot be cured, its symptoms may be managed. The symptoms of asthma differ from individual to individual, whereby some may  experience rare asthma episodes and others may have symptoms all the time. 

Asthma symptoms and indicators include: 

  • Breathing difficulty 
  • Tightness or discomfort in the chest 
  • Wheezing while exhaling – this is a frequent symptom of asthma particularly in youngsters
  • Sleeping problems brought on by shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing
  • Coughing or wheezing episodes exacerbated by a respiratory illness (common cold, flu) 

Causes and Risk Factors

It is unknown why some individuals get asthma and others do not, but it is most likely due to a mix of environmental and inherited (genetic) variables. Exposure to numerous irritants and chemicals that cause allergies (allergens) may cause asthma symptoms. Triggers of asthma vary from person to person, however, these may include:

  • Airborne allergens (e.g. pollen, dust mites, mould spores, and pet dander) 
  • Infections of the respiratory tract (e.g. common cold) 
  • Physical exercise 
  • Cold air
  • Pollutants and irritants in the air (e.g. smoke) 
  • Certain medicines (e.g. beta-blockers, aspirin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Stress and strong emotions 

What drinks may help with Asthma?

Hydration aids in the maintenance of a normal body temperature, the lubrication and cushioning of joints, the protection of the spinal cord, and the elimination of wastes through urine, sweat, and bowel movements.1 Staying hydrated is critical in asthma control. Exercise-induced dehydration has been found to produce bronchoconstriction  (i.e. narrowing of the airways). This is a reaction to people  who suffer from exercise-induced asthma (EIA) may experience.2 

Individuals who suffer from asthma have an altered lung lining, which increases the likelihood of inflammation and mucus formation. Adequate hydration is critical for mucus thinning. While consuming specific drinks will not cure asthma, keeping hydrated may help keep it under control. The quantity of fluids needed is determined by your activity level, perspiration rate, and weight.

Water

Human bodies are composed of 55-60% water, and it plays several responsibilities in ensuring that the body functions properly.3 Water consumption aids in the prevention of dehydration. Furthermore, substituting water for sugar-sweetened drinks might result in weight reduction. There is a link between being overweight and having asthma for which scientists have not found the  cause for. According to some studies, this is connected to inflammatory molecules released by fat cells.4 Drinking lots of water is vital for general health, regardless of whether it helps with asthma.

Tomato Juice 

Tomato juice contains a lot of vitamins A and C. One cup of tomato juice (depending on the brand and how you prepare it) contains between 20-42% of daily vitamin A requirements and 60% of your daily vitamin C needs. While tomato juice lacks the fibre found in whole tomatoes, a 4oz portion is considered one vegetable serving. Researchers studying immunological responses discovered that diets high in fruits and vegetables reduce lung inflammation and may protect against asthma.5

Caffeinated Drinks 

According to several studies, drinking caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, may lessen the chance of getting asthma and recurring asthma symptoms. Caffeine has a short-term impact on the lungs and is considered a weak bronchodilator, which is a medicine that relaxes airways to make breathing easier. According to scientists, caffeine is chemically similar to theophylline, a medicine used by physicians as a bronchodilator to open up the airways in the lungs.6 Thus, caffeine may be helpful in alleviating asthma symptoms, as research has shown that drinking little doses of caffeine may enhance lung function for up to 4 hours. 

Dairy 

Dairy drinks (e.g. cow's milk) provide essential nutrients, such as protein, magnesium, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D. A study of over 11, 000 individuals discovered that drinking milk throughout one's life was effective in the treatment of asthma.9 Dairy products do not need to be avoided unless you have an allergy (proven by skin or blood tests).

Tea

There are many different types of tea, some of which include caffeine(e.g. green tea). Caffeine is not present in other varieties of herbal teas. There has been little exploration on the effects of tea on its own, rather than the components added to teas. Some studies, for example, show that ginger may have a direct effect on soothing airway muscles.10 However, because of a lack of data, most doctors do not prescribe tea as a therapy technique. Always contact the medical staff before beginning to consume teas. Some teas have the potential for drug-nutrient interactions.

Drinks containing Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps to maintain a healthy immune system and may help to minimise airway inflammation. Adults and children with low vitamin D levels are more likely to develop asthma symptoms, while those who include vitamin D in their diet are less likely to need hospitalisation due to asthma.11 

Vitamin D intake may help lower the number of asthma episodes that need corticosteroid therapy.12 Though this impact was only seen in individuals who were deficient in vitamin D, it is acceptable to assume that vitamin D-containing drinks, such as 100% fortified orange juice, may improve asthma. More research is required since these drinks will not contain as much vitamin D as supplements.

Drinks to avoid in Asthma

Certain drinks may aggravate asthma or have been linked to an increased risk of acquiring asthma. However, drinking these drinks does not guarantee to have asthma. 

Alcohol 

Excessive alcohol consumption might dehydrate you. Sulfites and histamines are also present in several forms of alcohol, such as beer and wine. Consumption of certain kinds of alcohol may aggravate asthma symptoms in persons who are sensitive or allergic.

Beverages Full of Sugar

Growing research shows that consuming sugar-sweetened drinks, soda, and fructose frequently throughout pregnancy, youth, and adulthood may raise the risk of asthma.13 

Children who drink 100% fruit juice and sugary beverages have a dramatically higher chance of acquiring asthma.14 Furthermore, children born to mothers who consumed soft drinks while pregnant are more likely to develop asthma.15

Sugar-sweetened drinks are also linked to obesity, which is another risk factor for asthma. Whether or not this has an effect on asthma, it is necessary to eat sugar in moderation for general health.

Alternative remedies for Asthma

Alternative and complementary treatments, as well as lifestyle changes (exercise, reducing triggers, quitting smoking), may assist in avoiding symptoms. Eating a diet high in fruit and vegetables has been linked to a decreased incidence of asthma, as well as a reduction in asthma severity and symptoms.5

Conclusion

Asthma is a common lung disorder that manifests differently in each individual. Some drinks have been linked to a lower chance of getting asthma and lowering symptoms. This, however, will be very personalised. Tomato juice and coffee are two liquids that may aid in relieving asthma symptoms. Consuming beverages on the “avoid list” (alcohol and sugary drinks) seldom may have no impact on asthma risk. Asthma treatment strategy should be tailored to the asthma sufferer’s specific requirements. If any questions or concerns arise, a healthcare provider should be contacted.

References:

  1. Sveiven S, Bookman R, Ma J, Lyden E, Hanson C, Nordgren T. Milk Consumption and Respiratory Function in Asthma Patients: NHANES Analysis 2007–2012. Nutrients. 2021;13(4):1182.
  2. Armstrong L, Johnson E. Water Intake, Water Balance, and the Elusive Daily Water Requirement. Nutrients. 2018;10(12):1928.
  3. Ohashi Y, Sakai K, Hase H, Joki N. Dry weight targeting: The art and science of conventional hemodialysis. Seminars in Dialysis. 2018;31(6):551-556.
  4. Dixon A, Poynter M. Mechanisms of Asthma in Obesity. Pleiotropic Aspects of Obesity Produce Distinct Asthma Phenotypes. American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology. 2016;54(5):601-608.
  5. Hosseini B, Berthon B, Wark P, Wood L. Effects of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption on Risk of Asthma, Wheezing and Immune Responses: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2017;9(4):341.
  6. Welsh E, Bara A, Barley E, Cates C. Caffeine for asthma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2010;.
  7. Wee J, Yoo D, Byun S, Song C, Lee H, Park B et al. Analysis of the Relationship between Asthma and Coffee/Green Tea/Soda Intake. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020;17(20):7471.
  8. Mahdavinia M, Bishehsari F, Hayat W, Codispoti C, Sarrafi S, Husain I et al. Prevalence of allergic rhinitis and asthma in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 2016;117(2):158-162.e1.
  9. Sveiven S, Bookman R, Ma J, Lyden E, Hanson C, Nordgren T. Milk Consumption and Respiratory Function in Asthma Patients: NHANES Analysis 2007–2012. Nutrients. 2021;13(4):1182.
  10. Townsend E, Siviski M, Zhang Y, Xu C, Hoonjan B, Emala C. Effects of Ginger and Its Constituents on Airway Smooth Muscle Relaxation and Calcium Regulation. American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology. 2013;48(2):157-163.
  11. Martineau A, Cates C, Urashima M, Jensen M, Griffiths A, Nurmatov U et al. Vitamin D for the management of asthma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2016;2019(4).
  12. Jolliffe D, Greenberg L, Hooper R, Griffiths C, Camargo C, Kerley C et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent asthma exacerbations: a systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. 2017;5(11):881-890.
  13. Wright L, Rifas-Shiman S, Oken E, Litonjua A, Gold D. Prenatal and Early Life Fructose, Fructose-Containing Beverages, and Midchildhood Asthma. Annals of the American Thoracic Society. 2018;15(2):217-224.
  14. Berentzen N, van Stokkom V, Gehring U, Koppelman G, Schaap L, Smit H et al. Associations of sugar-containing beverages with asthma prevalence in 11-year-old children: the PIAMA birth cohort. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2014;69(3):303-308.
  15. Al-Zalabani A, Noor Elahi I, Katib A, Alamri A, Halawani A, Alsindi N et al. Association between soft drinks consumption and asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 2019;9(10):e029046.

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Sara Maria Majernikova

Bachelor of Science - BSc, Biomedical Sciences: Drug Mechanisms, UCL (University College London)
Experienced as a Research Intern at Department of Health Psychology and Methodology Research, Faculty of Medicine, Laboratory Intern at Department of Medical Biology, Faculty Medicine Biomedical Sciences Research Intern and Pharmacology Research Intern.

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