Eat­ing your way to bet­ter asthma con­trol

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Diet -

NEED an­other rea­son to eat healthy? New ev­i­dence bolsters the no­tion that nu­tri­tion­ally rich foods might help pre­vent or min­imise asthma. While the study couldn’t prove cause and ef­fect, one asthma spe­cial­ist said there’s cer­tainly no down­side to eat­ing bet­ter. “The health ben­e­fits of a diet rich in plant foods and un­pro­cessed foods are al­ready well-known,” said Dr Ann Til­ley, a pul­mo­nolo­gist at Lenox Hill Hos­pi­tal in New York City.

She wasn’t in­volved in the new study, but said it “should pro­vide ad­di­tional mo­ti­va­tion for lung doc­tors to dis­cuss diet choices with their pa­tients, and for asthma pa­tients to choose more fruits and vegeta­bles and fewer pro­cessed foods.” The new French re­search was led by Roland An­dri­ana­solo, part of the Nu­tri­tional Epi­demi­ol­ogy Re­search Team at Inser­mInra in Paris. He and his col­leagues sur­veyed nearly 35,000 French adults on the num­ber of asthma symp­toms they had ex­pe­ri­enced over the past year. About a quar­ter of the par­tic­i­pants had ex­pe­ri­enced at least one symp­tom.

The par­tic­i­pants were also asked about their eat­ing habits. Di­ets high in fruits, vegeta­bles and whole grain ce­re­als were rated the health­i­est, while those high in meat, salt and su­gar were deemed the least healthy. Af­ter ad­just­ing for other fac­tors linked with asthma such as smok­ing and ex­er­cise, the re­searchers found that health­ier di­ets were tied to a 30 per cent lower risk of de­vel­op­ing asthma symp­toms for men, and a 20 per cent lower risk for women. Among par­tic­i­pants who al­ready had asthma, healthy eat­ing was as­so­ci­ated with 60 per cent lower risk for “poorly con­trolled” symp­toms in men, and a 27 per cent lower risk in women, the study found.

The study was pub­lished in the Euro­pean Res­pi­ra­tory Jour­nal. “Our re­sults strongly en­cour­age the pro­mo­tion of healthy di­ets for pre­vent­ing asthma symp­toms and man­ag­ing the dis­ease,” An­dri­ana­solo said in a jour­nal news re­lease. How could food in­flu­ence asthma? Ac­cord­ing to An­dri­ana­solo, di­etary com­po­nents such as fruit, vegeta­bles and fiber “have an­tiox­i­dant and anti-in­flam­ma­tory prop­er­ties and are el­e­ments in a healthy diet that po­ten­tially lower symp­toms.”

On the other hand, su­gar, meat and salt “are el­e­ments with pro-in­flam­ma­tory ca­pac­i­ties that may po­ten­tially worsen symp­toms of asthma,” he ex­plained. Pul­mo­nolo­gist Dr Alan Men­sch helps di­rect med­i­cal af­fairs at Plain­view and Syos­set Hos­pi­tals in Long Is­land, New York. Re­gard­ing the study, “we should not be sur­prised by these re­sults,” he said. “It is known that healthy eat­ing plans such as the Mediter­ranean diet im­prove the health of pa­tients with car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and hy­per­ten­sion,” Men­sch said.

“Foods in­gested are bro­ken down in the di­ges­tive tract, and some com­po­nents are bioac­tive. In some ways this is no dif­fer­ent than med­i­ca­tions we in­gest,” he said. An­other po­ten­tial link ty­ing healthy di­ets to bet­ter asthma re­sis­tance may lie in the makeup of an in­di­vid­ual’s “mi­cro­biome,” Men­sch said. “This refers to the many bac­te­ria which nor­mally in­habit the gut,” he ex­plained. “It is felt that the mi­cro­biome as­so­ci­ated with healthy di­ets has anti-in­flam­ma­tory prop­er­ties.”

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