The Mediterranean diet which is high in fish, fruits, vegetables and nuts, and low in red meat, is increasingly being associated with beneficial health effects. Now, a new study provides evidence that children who eat a Mediterranean style diet are less likely to develop respiratory disorders such as asthma. The study data was collected over ten years, from 1995 to 2005, and involved 50,000 in several countries.
Specifically, the researchers concluded children who ate a lot of burgers (more than two burgers a week) had a higher risk of developing asthma or wheezes. One explanation for the findings is that fish, which often contains high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, may exert an anti-inflammatory effect which decreases the risk of developing asthma. The antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables may also exert a beneficial effect.
While there is no special diet for asthma, it has been known for some time that children who are obese are at a higher risk for developing pulmonary conditions such as asthma, and are at risk for developing more severe asthma. In addition, the incidence of asthma has been increasing over the past three decades in the United States. Some researchers believe that this is due to the American diet included increased amounts of processed foods and less fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that teenagers who have poor nutrition are more likely to have asthma symptoms. And poor lung function in those teenagers was correlated with diets that didn’t include enough vitamins C and E and omega-3 fatty acids. A study completed three years ago concluded that children who ate a Mediterranean diet were less likely to have asthma symptoms, which confirms the findings of this recent study in the BMJ journal Thorax. One day pediatricians may be recommending specific dietary changes for children with asthma based on the results of all of these studies.
While taking vitamin supplements for asthma has not been studied, it appears that eating a Mediterranean diet and avoiding hamburgers may very well protect children from developing asthma. At any rate, eating a healthier Mediterranean style diet is something that perhaps everybody should be doing, especially if you live in a developed country where a westernized diet high in fat and sugars is common.
If your child has asthma you could consider discussing with your doctor how to help them eat a healthier Mediterranean style diet. The health effects of a Mediterrean diet are numerous, and are believed to protect against cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and even depression: