By Alexandra Williams
As a fitness professional, you’re likely familiar with exercise-induced asthma (EIA) or exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), which can cause symptoms like wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath or a tightness in the chest—particularly in cold, dry air. This type of air and the other fall asthma triggers (mold, colds and flu, pollen, etc.) can increase the likelihood that asthma will put a damper on a workout.
For those fishing for answers, a recent study offers a simple suggestion: Eat more omega-3s. Research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and based on interviews of 642 people found a correlation between eating fish/seafood and a decreased risk of asthma (2019; 16 , 43). Specifically, the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) in marine oil were associated with a 62% reduction in risk of asthma symptoms.
Award-winning registered dietitian and nutritionist Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, has this to say on the subject: “People with asthma may get benefits from eating fatty fish and other foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, like walnuts and flaxseed. While all forms of fish and shellfish contain omega-3s, the richest source is farmed salmon, which is also more affordable.” Myrdal Miller, who is also founder and president of Farmer’s Daughter®Consulting, adds that “the omega-3s in walnuts and flax differ from those in seafood, but our bodies can convert some of the omega-3s into the same form found in seafood.”
Of course, the benefits of omega-3s are not limited to people with lung issues. To ensure an adequate weekly supply of this nutrient, Myrdal Miller recommends eating two to three portions of seafood each week along with daily portions of plant-based sources of omega-3s, like walnuts.
“I encourage anyone who has specific diet and health questions to see a registered dietitian nutritionist for safe, sound and science-based advice,” says Myrdal Miller.
You can find an RDN at eatright.org/find-an-expert.
For more information on EIA/EIB, contact the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America or the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.