If you are one of the millions of Americans who feel sidelined by asthma, you may envy Olympic athletes who run, swim and jump. You may find yourself short of breath by simply watching these amazing feats of endurance!

One track and field Olympian could have allowed her asthma diagnosis at 18 to dictate her destiny. For her, sitting on the bench wasn’t appealing. She decided to continue her quest for gold and made lifestyle changes to achieve her dream. Jackie Joyner-Kersee amassed six gold medals. Now, she inspires others to continually strive to improve their own lives.

Fueling your Body

Your body is like an engine. Obviously, fueling it with good food will give you a burst of energy. Poor food choices can leave you feeling sluggish and struggling for breath. It’s important to note that each person’s reaction to food may be different, so it’s best to always discuss your diet with your health care professional.  You can improve the health of your lungs by learning the best and worst foods to eat.

4 of the Best Foods:

  1. Apples
    Perhaps it’s the powerful flavonoids, but controlled studies have shown that those who eat two to five apples a week reduce their asthma more than those who consume less.

  2. Cantaloupe
    This melon is a treasure chest of vitamin C. These vitamins are great warriors in attacking free radicals. Japanese preschoolers who added vitamin C to their diet were less likely to suffer with asthma than their classmates with lower intake.

  3. Carrots
    These vibrant colored vegetables are rich with the anti-oxidant beta-carotene that can reduce exercise-triggered asthma.

  4. Avocado
    The avocado is often called the champion of all fruit. It’s loaded with health-promoting anti-oxidants.

4 of the Worst:

  1. Eggs
    While many people can ingest eggs without experiencing any allergic reactions, they can ignite asthma in others. An allergist can advise you of your risks.

  2. Peanuts
    These little morsels can induce severe allergic reactions and should be off limits to those with asthma.

  3. Salt
    Too much sodium can restrict airways and caution is advised. Most sodium intake occurs in restaurants or by consuming an abundance of processed foods.

  4. Shellfish
    They may be tasty, but shellfish can pose a danger and should be on the radar screen of those with asthma. Avoid lobster, crab and shrimp.


Once you become more disciplined in eating the right food and avoiding the bad, you should feel more inclined to exercise. If you are currently taking medication for your asthma, you can still incorporate healthy lifestyle changes to your daily routine.

True, not every person with asthma should take up such an aggressive sport. However, understanding diet and exercise can be extremely beneficial.

While an asthma diagnosis may restrain you from becoming a competitor on one of those wild, challenging reality shows, it shouldn’t keep you from enjoying life.

Learning your ABCs of Exercise

The body isn’t meant to idle for long periods of time. A sedentary culture has produced many couch potatoes. Even those who suffer with asthma benefit from physical activity.

  1. Prior to exercising – 15 to 30 minutes – use your prescribed inhaler.  
  2. Allow your body to warm up by stretching or jogging gently for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Keep liquids at hand and stay hydrated.
  4. Don’t forget to cool down afterward to avoid post workout muscle spasms in your airways.

As long as you exercise in moderation and have the green light from your physician, you can perform certain activities that will lead to a happy and healthier you.


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