Good Food a Good Asthma-Management Tool
Vegetables and fruits provide a wide array of antioxidant and other nutrients that might help reduce inflammation
"Five a day" is surely good advice for people wanting to improve their long-term health, but, for people with asthma, the effects of eating lots of fruits and vegetables may be more immediate. A study found that the lungs of people with asthma functioned better when they ate a diet high in vegetables and fruit, compared with people on a diet low in vegetables and fruit after just two weeks. The same study also found that taking an antioxidant supplement for 12 weeks was not as effective as eating a high-antioxidant diet.
Comparing diets and supplements
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, included 137 adults with asthma. They were assigned to one of three groups:
After the first two weeks eating their assigned diets, participants added either an antioxidant supplement (a tomato extract providing 45 mg of the antioxidant, lycopene, per day) or placebo for an additional 12 weeks.
Eat your antioxidants for the best effect
Several important differences were found:
"We found that a low-antioxidant diet led to a reduction in lung function and an increased risk of asthma exacerbation compared with a high-antioxidant diet," the study's authors said. "Whereas antioxidant supplements and dietary manipulation both increased antioxidant concentrations [in the blood], clinical improvements were evident only after the high-antioxidant diet, which suggests that whole food interventions are most effective."
Eating for better asthma control
Vegetables and fruits provide a wide array of antioxidant and other nutrients that might help reduce inflammation and manage inflammatory conditions like asthma.
In addition to lycopene, here are some of the many antioxidants from vegetables and fruits that might benefit people with asthma:
(Am J Clin Nutr 2012;96:534-43)
Maureen Williams, ND, completed her doctorate in naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University in Seattle and has been in private practice since 1995. With an abiding commitment to access to care, she has worked in free clinics in the US and Canada, and in rural clinics in Guatemala and Honduras where she has studied traditional herbal medicine. She currently lives and practices in Victoria, BC, and lectures and writes extensively for both professional and community audiences on topics including family nutrition, menopause, anxiety and depression, heart disease, cancer, and easing stress. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.