Yale University research found that subjects who took 500 mg of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) for two days had significantly reduced wheezing and shortness of breath after working out. Asorbic acid's seemingly protective effect may be caused by its ability to accelerate the metabolism of histamines, a chemical that can cause the lungs and airway to swell. Bolster your diet with bell peppers (they have more vitamin C than oranges) and citrus fruit since 1 in 10 men are deficient in vitamin C, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
University of Indiana researchers gave subjects an omega-3 fatty acid supplement daily for 3 weeks. (The supplement contained 3.2 grams of EPA and 2.2 grams of DHA, both types of omega-3s.) Fifteen minutes after exercising, subjects on this fish-oil supplemented diet experienced better lung function than those taking a placebo. Researchers attribute this easier breathing to omega-3s' ability to help decrease inflammation in the body. Aim for a 3-to-1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. (Americans currently eat a 10-to-1 ratio.) Too many omega-6s can actually trigger inflammation. Good omega-3 sources include salmon, tuna, and mackerel; corn and soybean products are usually high in omega-6s.
Drinking high doses of caffeine before exercising—about 3 cups of strong coffee for a 150-pound man—may make it easier to breathe after your workout, according to a Tel-Aviv University study. Caffeine, a muscle relaxant, dilates your airway, and combats the natural tendency for an asthmatic's lungs to spasm and constrict after exercising.
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