Rx Nutrition Resource Center

Rx Nutrition Resource Center

July 20, 2018
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Healthy diet prevents asthma, reduces symptoms

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Following a healthy diet that is high in fruit, vegetables and grains is associated with fewer asthma symptoms and greater asthma control and may prevent onset of the condition, according to a study published in European Respiratory Journal.

“Existing research on the relationship between diet and asthma is inconclusive, and compared to other chronic diseases, the role of diet in asthma is still debated,” Roland M. Andrianasolo, MD, from Université Paris 13, said in a press release. “This has resulted in a lack of clear nutritional recommendations for asthma prevention, and little guidance for people living with asthma on how to reduce their symptoms through diet.”

“To address this gap, we wanted to make more detailed and precise assessments of dietary habits and the associations between several dietary scores and asthma symptoms, as well as the level of asthma control,” he added.

Andrianasolo and colleagues administered questionnaires on asthma symptoms and asthma control to 34,766 adults. A quarter of participants reported having at least one asthma symptom.

The researchers also assessed participants’ quality of diet using three dietary scores, including the Alternate Healthy Eating Index 2010, the literature-based adherence score to the Mediterranean diet and the modified Programme National Nutrition Santé Guideline Score. They defined diets high in fruit, vegetables and whole grains as healthiest and diets high in meat, salt and sugar as least healthy.

Data were adjusted for confounding factors, including smoking and exercise.

Overall, the odds of experiencing asthma symptoms were 30% lower among men who adhered to a healthier diet (OR = 0.67; 95% CI, 0.60–0.75) and 20% lower among women who maintained a healthier diet (OR = 0.79; 95% CI, 0.75–0.84). Additionally, the odds of poorly controlled asthma symptoms were 60% lower among men with healthy diets (OR = 0.39; 95% CI, 0.18–0.84) and 27% lower among women with healthy diets (OR = 0.73; 95% CI, 0.53–1.01).

These results suggest that maintaining a healthy diet may prevent onset of asthma and control symptoms in patients who already have asthma, according to the researchers.

“This study was designed to assess the role of an overall healthy diet on asthma symptoms and control, rather than identify particular specific foods or nutrients,” Andrianasolo said. “Our results strongly encourage the promotion of healthy diets for preventing asthma symptoms and managing the disease.”

“A healthy diet, as assessed by the dietary scores we used, is mostly made up of a high intake of fruit, vegetables and fiber,” he added. “These have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and are elements in a healthy diet that potentially lower symptoms. In contrast, the least healthy diets include high consumption of meat, salt and sugar, and these are elements with pro-inflammatory capacities that may potentially worsen symptoms of asthma.”

The researchers noted that long-term studies are necessary, but it is still important for health care professionals to discuss diet with patients at risk for asthma or with asthma. – by Alaina Tedesco

Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.