The breathing condition asthma affects millions of people, causing difficulty breathing, a tightness in the chest and coughing. In more serious cases, sufferers may have “asthma attacks” – which involve a feeling of being suffocated, a condition only relieved by the use of inhalers.
There are many obvious causes of asthma, including smoking, polluted air, lung infections and airborne allergens such as dust-mites or pollen.
However, some health experts believe that certain foods may also act as triggers to the condition, although conclusive scientific proof is currently lacking.
According to information published on the website of the Mayo Clinic in the United States, suspicion mostly falls on foods containing sulphites. These are naturally occurring substances found in fruit juice, jam, dried fruit, potatoes, prawns, pre-cooked meals, beer and wine.
Some researchers believe that food additives, food colourings or preservatives, including the artificial sweetener aspartame, might also trigger asthma. And it is these additives that mostly account for the concern over pre-cooked meals.
According to the WebMD website, a food allergy is defined as an abnormal reaction by the body’s immune system to proteins in foods that usually are either safe or harmless. Specific examinations and tests on skin can be made to determine whether there is sensitivity to specific foods.
The most common symptoms of allergies are vomiting, hives, rashes and diarrhoea.
Food intolerance, on the other hand, is an abnormal response of the body to an ingested food that is not an allergy. Examples of this include food poisoning and reactions from food and drinks such as caffeine.
Anybody who suspects their food has triggered an unpleasant reaction – whether it be asthma or anything else – should consult a doctor immediately.
Once the problem has been identified by a specialist, the most effective way to avoid further problems is to simply to avoid that food or anything containing it.