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Apple a Day Keeps Asthma Away

A new study, published in the July issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), shows that a low dietary intake of certain nutrients increases the likelihood of respiratory symptoms such as asthma, especially in teens who smoke.

Teenagers who forego a healthy and balanced diet may have a harder time catching their breath. Furthermore, a lack of these nutrients may also lead to lower lung function.

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 lead study author Jane Burns, ScD, Harvard School of Public Health.

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.

While observing 12th-grade students from 12 communities around the US and Canada, Dr. Burns and her colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health, Health Canada, Brigham and Womens Hospital, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 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 s
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