An apple a day may keep asthma away. Apples are packed with phenolic acids and flavonoids that are known for reducing inflammation in the air passageways, a common feature of both asthma and wheezing. (Here are more of the best and worst foods for asthma.) “Asthma has increased in prevalence,” says Alan Mensch, MD, senior vice president of medical affairs and medical director at Plainview Hospital and assistant professor at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell in Plainview, NY. “Some people speculate it’s because our diets have gone from a healthy diet to a less healthy diet over the past couple of decades.” Don’t miss these other everyday items that can cause lung problems.
The mono and polyunsaturated fats found in olive oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil are great for more than just your skin, hair, and heart; they also play a role in lung health. In fact, olive oil may help fight the health risks associated with air pollution like increased blood pressure and impaired blood vessels—factors that can reduce your oxygen supply, make your heart pump faster and make breathing more difficult. An Environmental Protection Agency study administered fish oil, olive oil, and no oil to three groups of adults; after one month, participants breathed in filtered air and polluted air for several hours. The olive oil trumped all by boosting the blood vessel’s response to pollutant stress and increased levels of tPA, a blood protein that dissolves clots, which can give you shortness of breath. Scientists believe the oleic acid, an anti-inflammatory component found in olive oil, may be responsible.The findings appear in Environmental Health Perspectives. “Olive oil is a healthy oil that serves an antioxidant function, says Norman H. Edelman, MD. senior scientific advisor for the American Lung Association. “It helps fight the primary effects of pollutants, which is inflammation and the bad molecules that come from inflammation, which are the oxidants.” Here’s how to know if you’re actually buying fake olive oil, which is surprisingly common.
That cup of Joe does more than give your brain a jolt—it could also alleviate asthma symptoms. “Caffeine is a mild bronchodilator; however, it doesn’t compare to an inhaler,” says Dr. Mensch. Even if your morning coffee does improve your breathing, the effects aren’t long lasting, which means it’s safest to always have your inhaler in tow. Coffee confers other important health benefits as well.