Studies abound that support the benefit of healthy dietary measures and their positive influence on respiratory health, but can a lack of healthy nutrients lead to respiratory illness and disease?
It's National Respiratory Care Week and tomorrow is Lung Health Day, so there's never been a better time to look at the link between nutrition and healthy lungs. A study conducted by researchers for the journal Chest (2007; 132, 238–45), looked at a group of 2,112 high-school seniors from 13 different communities in the United States and Canada. The investigation focused on the association between low dietary nutrient intakes and pulmonary function/respiratory symptoms in the teens.
Low dietary fruit intake and low intake of omega-3 fatty acids were both associated with higher rates of the symptoms of chronic bronchitis. Low intakes of omega-3 fatty acids also increased wheezing and asthma among the teens.
“Adolescents with the lowest dietary intakes of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory micronutrients had lower pulmonary function and increased respiratory symptoms, especially among smokers, suggesting that adequate dietary intake may promote respiratory health and lessen the effects of oxidative stress,” the researchers concluded.
The findings are not surprising. The overall health benefits of nutrients found in fruits, vegetables and omega-3-rich foods such as wild salmon and walnuts has been well-established. The interesting piece is the actual affect on respiratory processes and resulting impact on disease symptoms. While physical activity is a major contributor to enhanced cardiorespiratory health, nutrition should also be taken into consideration when seeking to improve or maintain lung health.
Based on the findings, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure you consume proper nutrition for healthy lung support:
- Eat a variety of colorful fresh fruits and vegetables DAILY. Try having a fruit and/or vegetable with EVERY meal and for snacks. Any fruit/vegetable will suffice, and you can never “over eat” fruits and veggies.
- Consume omega-3 rich foods with your meals. Opt for those foods highest in DHA and EPA such as wild alaskan salmon (and other cold-water fish), walnuts, flaxseed and omega-3 enriched eggs.