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Diet to prevent and treat asthma
Asthma is a widespread chronic condition where the airways are narrowed and inflamed, causing difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. An American medical committee has now compiled evidence of what foods promote the disease and which provide relief. This research offers hope that changing your diet may be helpful in treating and preventing asthma.
Researchers at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine show how a plant-based diet can help prevent and treat asthma, while dairy products and high-fat foods can increase risk and worsen the course. The results of the study were published in the journal "Nutrition Reviews".
Asthma is common
"Asthma is a disease that affects more than 25 million Americans," said study author Dr. Hana Kahleova, director of clinical research at the Medical Committee. According to the German Lung Foundation e.V., around eight million people in Germany are affected.
Which foods help and which harm?
The researchers provide evidence that certain foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other high-fiber foods, can be beneficial in alleviating and preventing asthma. In contrast, other foods such as dairy products and foods with a high content of saturated fatty acids appear to worsen the course.
Several studies show the effect
For example, one study showed that a group of people with asthma experienced less severe symptoms and less reliance on asthma medications after eating plant foods for eight weeks. This effect did not occur in a control group with a mixed diet. In another study, asthma patients ate plant-based food for one year and found improvements in vital capacity - a measure of the amount of air that can be expelled.
How do the positive evaluations come about?
The researchers suspect that a plant-based diet is beneficial because it has been shown to reduce systemic inflammation that can worsen asthma. Even if this is not yet sufficiently proven, the researchers see the high fiber content as well as the high proportion of antioxidants and flavonoids in the plant diet as the reason for the positive effects.
Avoid dairy products as an asthmatic
The study also concludes that eating dairy products can increase your risk of asthma and worsen symptoms. A 2015 study found that children who consumed many dairy products were more likely to develop asthma than children who consumed fewer dairy products.
In another study, children with asthma were either placed in a control group in which they did not change their diet or in a test group in which they avoided dairy products and eggs for eight weeks. After giving up dairy products, the peak exhalation rate improved by 22 percent in the test group with the plant-based diet, while the children in the control group recorded a decline by 0.6 percent.
Avoid saturated fats as an asthmatic
High fat intake, consumption of saturated fats and low fiber intake were associated with inflammation of the respiratory tract and worsening of lung function in asthma patients. "This groundbreaking research shows that plant-based foods and the avoidance of dairy and other high-fat foods can be an effective means of preventing and treating asthma," said Dr. Kahleova. (vb)
More information about asthma can be found in the article: Bronchial asthma - causes, symptoms and therapy.
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Jihad Alwarith, Hana Kahleova, Lee Crosby, et al .: The role of nutrition in asthma prevention and treatment; in: Nutrition Reviews, 2020, academic.oup.com