Asthma Risk Factors: A High Salt Diet May Raise Your Risk of Asthma Attacks

What triggers an asthma attack?


There are many different kinds of triggers for Asthma. Reactions to them vary for each individual and from time to time. Some triggers for Asthma are harmless to some people but cause inflammation in others. There are people who have many triggers to Asthma and those that have no particular one. Avoiding the triggers is really the only way to avoid asthma attacks.

Some triggers are...

Upper respiratory infections, inhaled allergens, medications, food and food additives, irritants and exercise.

We are constantly reminded by our doctors and we constantly see ads on TV, billboards and in newspapers and magazines that we need to exercise. How then can that be bad for you? Approximately 90 percent of people with asthma have exercised-induced asthma.

Salt and Your Asthma

A study by Dr. Tim Mickleborough, who is a physiologist in the University of Indiana"s Department of Kinesiology, started with 24 men and women with exercise-induced asthma. Twelve were put on a low-salt diet and the other 12 were put on a high-salt diet. They all ate the same food but the second group was given a capsule containing 10,000mg of extra salt. The low-salt group was given placebo capsules. After two weeks, all 24 ran on a treadmill until they could not run any longer. They were then tested to see how much air they could exhale.

The researches found that those on the low-salt diet could exhale much more air than those that were on the high-salt diet. It was found that those on the low-salt diet did not have to use their bronchodilator drugs as often. There was far less inflammation which meant that their airways were less constricted.

Their research also showed that oxygen could not move from lungs to the bloodstream as easily in those that were on the high-salt diet. It is thought that perhaps salt increases the volume of blood in the tiny vessels in the lungs. Because of that, fluid is forced into the area between the blood vessel and the airway making it more difficult for oxygen to travel across that area into the bloodstream.

Amounts of Salt We Consume

The Western world, especially Americans, consume a large amount of salt most of which comes from fast food and processed foods. Actually over three-quarters of the salt that we as Americans consume come from those types of foods. The regional sales of table salt in England and Wales correlates strongly with asthma deaths in men and children. It seems to affect men more so than women. The underlying reason is not know at this time. The studies done with animals confirm that males seem to be more sensitive.

Exercise and Asthma

If you have exercise-related asthma, you might want to switch to a low-salt diet. Research published as late as 2006 indicates a large difference going from a typical high-salt diet to a low-salt diet. Most if not all of the symptoms of exercise-induced asthma were eliminated. Those who consumed large amounts of salt showed more signs of inflammation in their lungs. As stated before, most people with asthma suffer with exercise-induced asthma as well as 10 percent of the people without asthma.

It is quite evident that lower salt intake can and will help control asthma, especially if one of your triggers is exercise.


Photo Credit: Judy **

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