There’s big news on the nutrition front for those who suffer from asthma. Two recent Australian studies have shown that those who eat a diet high in processed foods and saturated fats are more likely to suffer from asthma symptoms – and get less relief from ventolin inhalers. Here’s what the researchers found, and what it means for your health.
1. Processed Foods Increase Asthma Risk
Researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia found that diet may contribute to the increasing incidence of asthma. They suggest that processed foods can create inflammation in the body, which can worsen chronic inflammatory diseases like asthma (which involves inflammation of the lungs) and reduce lung function.
According to the research, inflammation peaks at about four hours after a meal of inflammatory foods – generally those high in sugar, salt, and fat. If a person regularly eats such meals, the cycle of inflammation becomes chronic.
They also found that a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods like fruit, vegetables, beans and legumes, whole grains, and healthy fats (like those found in olive oil and fish) can help reduce the risk of asthma attacks. Specifically, the researchers found that people who ate five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruits per day had fewer asthma attacks than those who ate two servings of fruit and one of vegetables.
According to the study, saturated fat was the most important inflammatory dietary component, and fiber was the most important anti-inflammatory component.
2. High-Fat Meals Reduce the Effectiveness of Inhalers
The researchers also found that fat interferes with the way ventolin is transported through the body, meaning that asthma sufferers receive less benefit from a venolin inhaler after consuming a high-fat meal. Interestingly, this applies specifically to saturated fats. Beneficial fats like omega-3 fatty acids actually helped improve the transmission of ventolin.
Both studies were presented at the 2014 meeting of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand.
The Bottom Line
Once again, research has shown that a diet high in processed foods can be damaging to your health. Whether or not you suffer from asthma, a diet rich in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is clearly the best choice.