A new study reports that a diet rich in fruit, vitamins C and E, and omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic bronchitis.
There is now a significant body of research, including this new study published in July's issue of the journal Chest, which shows that a healthy diet rich in anti-oxidants and vitamins is quite good for asthma.
The new work suggests that higher intakes of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory micronutrients are associated with lower reports of cough, respiratory infections, and less severe asthma-related symptoms. The lead author, Dr. Jane Burns, is from the Harvard School of Public Health.
"Teenagers who have low dietary intakes of fruit, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids are at greater risk of having asthma, emphasizing the importance of a balanced diet, composed of whole foods," she advised.
According to the American Lung Association, almost 20 million Americans suffer from asthma. The condition is on the rise all throughout the Western world.
The researchers report that at least one third of the students' diets were below the recommended levels of fruit, vegetable, vitamins A and E, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acid intake.
"Vitamin supplements can help teens meet their daily recommended levels," said Dr. Burns, "and surprisingly, even relatively low levels of omega-3 fatty acids appeared to protect teens from higher reported respiratory symptoms."
Results showed that low dietary intakes of fruit, vitamins C and E, and omega-3 fatty acids were associated with decreased lung function and a greater risk of chronic bronchitis symptoms, wheezing, and asthma. These risks were further increased among students with the lowest intakes and who also smoked.
During the past year, studies have been published that report increased intake of vitamins C and E, with some research suggesting that the mother's intake of such nutrients during pregnancy may have lifelong benefits for the respiratory health of the offspring.