Teens, especially those who smoke, may be at an increased risk of respiratory symptoms such as asthma it they forego a healthy and balanced diet .
The finding comes from a study by a group of researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, Health Canada, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) led by Jane Burns, ScD, Harvard School of Public Health who found that teens whose diet doesn't contain sufficient amounts of fruit, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids are at greater risk of having asthma.
"Our study, as well as other research, suggests that higher intakes of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory micronutrients are associated with lower reports of cough, respiratory infections, and less severe asthma-related symptoms," said Jane Burns.
"Teenagers who have low dietary intakes of fruit, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids are at greater risk of having asthma, emphasizing the importance of a balanced diet, composed of whole foods," she added.
As a part of the study the researchers observed 12th-grade students from 12 communities around the US and Canada and examined the associations of low dietary nutrient intake with low pulmonary function and respiratory symptoms.
Over the period of one school year, 2,112 students completed a standardized respiratory questionnaire and a dietary questionnaire. They also answered questions about medication use, smoking habits, and recent exercise, before participating in lung function testing.
Dr. Burns explained that the researchers focused on teens because it is the ideal age at which to test lung capacity and eating habits.
"During late adolescence, physical stature has, on average, been attained and lung growth closely parallels this growth. Therefore we were observing a time when lung function was close to its optimal capacity," she said.
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