Foods to Reduce Allergy and Asthma Symptoms in Kids
Laura Roe Stevens
Parents of children with asthma and allergies are all too familiar with doctor’s offices, doses of steroids, antibiotics, allergy medications and sometimes even the dreaded emergency room visit. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were easy-to-access, inexpensive foods that could help reduce the severity of your children’s allergy symptoms?
While experts warn that there really are no magic foods that ward off asthma and allergies for all children, new research shows that diets rich in some foods can make a difference. For instance, a 2007 Spanish study found that children who regularly ate fish and certain vegetables (green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and eggplant) had 40 percent fewer allergy and asthma symptoms than kids who rarely ate them. Researchers suggest that the high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nature of the vegetables and fish had a healing effect on the bronchial passageways.
Antioxidant-rich superfoods won’t make a difference in a child’s health if the rest of his diet is poor. So be sure your kids avoid foods filled with excess sugar, preservatives, food coloring and additives, as well as fried foods and too much red meat (which increases inflammation). Encourage your kids to eat the following foods on a regular basis to reduce allergy and asthma symptoms:
This fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to reduce children’s risk of suffering atopy, or inherited childhood allergies. Your goal is to incorporate 200 grams (about 7 ounces, or two decks of cards) of fish that is rich in omega-3 a week. If your child thinks he doesn’t like salmon, try making it with yummy sauces he likes, such as teriyaki, and serve it over rice. Or mix blueberry all-fruit spread with brown mustard, spread on top of the fish and cover with crushed crackers for a crunch. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
This antioxidant-rich veggie is a great option because many kids will actually eat it (especially given the right toppings). Cover it with something tasty, like cream of cheddar soup, to make it more appealing. Broccoli, also known for its cancer-fighting qualities, is a rich source of calcium, magnesium, iron and vitamins A and C.
Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries contain quercetin, a compound believed to have anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties. Other sources of quercetin include onions, apples, black tea, and some nuts and seeds. Berries and apples are the perfect snack on the go; you can also top a healthy portion of berries with a small scoop of natural sorbet or frozen yogurt for a perfectly sweet sundae.
The vitamin C in oranges is best-known for its cold-fighting powers -- but experts say it can also stabilize the cell membrane of mast cells, reducing the histamine release that can cause allergy symptoms. Other sources of vitamin C include kale, bell peppers, cauliflower, papaya and most citrus fruits.
5. Coconut Water or Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is high in medium-chain triglycerides, which are thought to help calm the gastrointestinal tract and ease allergies. Sneak this oil into your child’s diet by cooking with it, or try coconut water juice boxes, which can be found in the health food aisles of most grocery stores.
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