Asthma is a chronic lung condition that affects around 25 million Americans, including 8% of adults and 7% of children. Symptoms of asthma include chest tightening, difficult breathing, mucous, coughing, and wheezing. Asthma is triggered differently in people and can be caused by allergies, exercise, and environmental toxins.
While the best treatments for asthma include avoidance of triggers, limited research suggests that adequate hydration is important for asthma management, and certain types of beverages may be better than others.
This article will focus on specific types of beverages and nutrients to focus on and types to consider avoiding.
What Drinks May Help With Asthma?
Hydration helps to maintain a normal body temperature, lubricate and cushion joints, protect the spinal cord, and get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements. Staying hydrated is important in asthma management. Exercise-induced dehydration has been shown to cause bronchoconstriction or a narrowing of the airways. This is a response to people who experience exercise-induced asthma (EIA) and asthma.
A person with asthma has an altered lung lining, which can increase the risk of inflammation and mucus production. Adequate hydration is important for thinning mucous. Therefore while drinking certain beverages will not cure asthma, staying hydrated may help keep it under control. The amount of fluids you need depends on your activity level, the amount you perspire, and your weight.
Our bodies are made up of 55% to 60% water, and it has many roles in making sure the body is functioning optimally. Drinking water helps to prevent dehydration. In addition, replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with water can yield weight loss.
For reasons that are not clearly defined, there is an association between excess weight and asthma. Some research suggests that this is related to inflammatory substances produced by fat cells.
Whether or not water helps with asthma, drinking plenty of water is important for overall health.
Tomato juice is rich in vitamin A and C. One cup of tomato juice (depending on the brand and if you make it) has about 20% to 42% of your daily needs of vitamin A and 60% of daily vitamin C needs.
While tomato juice does not have the fiber found in whole tomatoes, a 4-ounce serving is considered one serving of vegetables. Researchers examined immune responses and found that diets rich in fruits and vegetables had a protective effect on lung inflammation and may be protective against asthma.
Some studies suggest that consumption of caffeinated drinks like coffee may reduce the risk of developing asthma and recurrent asthma symptoms. Caffeine has a temporary effect on the lungs and is said to be a weak bronchodilator, a medication that relaxes (dilates) the airways to help you breathe easier.
In one large study, researchers examined the relationship between caffeine consumption (soda, green tea, and coffee) and asthma. They concluded that consuming one cup of coffee, one to two times per day, may have protective effects against asthma. They did not determine a benefit with soda or green tea consumption. Researchers believe that the coffee benefits have to do with methylxanthines found in coffee and the amount of caffeine.
It is not advised to drink caffeinated beverages as a treatment method for asthma (this can be dangerous). In fact, caffeine can trigger reflux disease or heartburn, which is a known trigger for asthma and may cause more frequent asthma symptoms and exacerbations. The amount you may need for benefit could have other side effects. In addition, it is advised to avoid caffeine for at least four hours before a lung function test.
Dairy beverages, like cow's milk, have beneficial nutrients (protein, magnesium, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D). A study of more than 11,000 patients found that lifelong milk consumption was beneficial in asthma. Outside of an allergy (confirmed with skin or blood testing) dairy products do not need to be avoided.
There are many different kinds of tea, some with caffeine, like green tea. Other types of herbal teas do not have caffeine. There is limited research on the effects of tea alone rather the components added to teas. For example, some research suggests that ginger may have direct activity on smooth airway muscles. Studies have demonstrated that ginger has airway relaxation properties.
But, because research is scarce, most physicians do not recommend using tea as a treatment method. Before you start consuming teas, always consult with your medical team. Some teas can have drug-nutrient interactions.
Drinks With Vitamin D
Vitamin D supports a healthy immune system and may reduce airway inflammation. Studies also show that vitamin D supplementation may reduce the rate of asthma attacks requiring treatment with corticosteroids. This effect was only present in patients with vitamin D deficiency. Therefore, it would be reasonable to suggest that beverages containing vitamin D, such as 100% fortified orange juice, may benefit asthma. These beverages will not contain as much vitamin D as supplements, and more research is needed.
Drinks to Avoid for Asthma
There are certain beverages that can make asthma worse or have been associated with an increased risk of developing asthma. However, consuming these beverages does not mean you will develop asthma.
Drinking too much alcohol can be dehydrating. In addition, certain types of alcohol, such as beer and wine, contain sulfites. For people who are sensitive or allergic to sulfites, consumption of these types of alcohol can increase symptoms of asthma.
Growing evidence suggests a correlation between regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, soda, and fructose during pregnancy, childhood, and adulthood may increase the risk of asthma. Sugar-sweetened beverages are also associated with excess weight, another risk factor for asthma. Whether this truly affects asthma or not, it is important to consume sugar in moderation for overall health.
Additional Remedies for Asthma
Complimentary or alternative therapies and lifestyle modifications (exercise, limiting triggers, smoking cessation) may also help to prevent symptoms. Eating a diet rich in certain foods (such as fruits and vegetables) is associated with a lower risk of asthma and may reduce asthma severity and symptoms.
Asthma is a common lung condition that presents differently in individuals. Some types of beverages have been associated with a decreased risk of developing asthma and reducing symptoms. However, this will be very individualized.
Some drinks that may help with asthma include tomato juice and coffee. For some people, consuming beverages on the avoid list (alcohol and sugary drinks) infrequently may not have any effect on asthma risk. Your asthma treatment plan should be customized to your needs. Reach out to your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.
A Word From Verywell
Overall, an eating plan that prioritizes hydration, limits high-fat meat and dairy, and is rich in plants—fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, and whole grains—may improve asthma symptoms. In addition, avoidance of triggers and other complementary treatments can be explored.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can cold drinks trigger asthma?
The research on this is scarce and limited to certain populations. In the past, it was thought that cold beverages can cause some restrictions in the airways, but it is extremely hard to interpret the data. Ask your healthcare provider for their medical advice.
Can drinking water trigger asthma?
Drinking water should not cause asthma, though gulping water during an asthma attack is not recommended. Maintaining adequate hydration can help prevent asthma symptoms.