Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Giving Lungs Breathing Room

"This study shows that diet might help repair lung damage in people who have stopped smoking."
"It also suggests that a diet rich in fruits can slow down the lung's natural aging process, even if you have never smoked. The findings support the need for dietary recommendations, especially for people at risk of developing respiratory diseases such as COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease]."
"Our study suggests that eating more fruits on a regular basis can help attenuate the decline as people age, and might even help repair damage caused by smoking. Diet could become one way of combating rising diagnoses of CPOD around the world."
Vanessa Garcia, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

New research, allied with the Aging Lungs in European Cohorts Study (ALEC) has been published in the European Respiratory Journal, suggesting that ex-smokers with a diet focusing on fruit and tomatoes, and particularly on apples, experience a slower decline as they age, in their lung function. As a corollary to the research is the potential restoration of lung tissue damaged by smoking, resulting from the nutrients found in those foods.

Accordingly, the researchers collaborating in this study concluded that those adults who consumed over two tomatoes or three portions of fresh fruit daily had a slower decline in lung function on average than people who tended to eat less than a tomato or fewer than one portion of fruits daily. It was only fresh fruits and vegetables with which this lung-protective effect has been associated. Tomato sauce, as an example, or fruits that have been processed fail to produce the same protective effect.

Moreover, the highest tomato consumption was linked to a more gradual decline in lung function among all adults, inclusive of ex-smokers and those who had never smoked. This is a critical finding, given the fact that inadequate lung function leads to morbidity risks from diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, and lung cancer. The team, led by Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, assistant professor of international health at the Bloomberg School of Health, followed 650 adults living in Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom.

The 650 participants had their diet and lung function assessed in 2002 by the researchers. Then repeated lung function tests took place a decade later with the same participants, where researchers measured how much air could be expelled from each person's lungs in one second, and how much conversely, they could inhale in six seconds, controlling for age, height, sex, body mass index, socioeconomic status, physical activity and caloric intake.

An obviously slower decline in lung function was noted among former smokers who consumed a diet high in tomatoes and fruit, apples in particular, suggesting that nutrients in the diet aid in the repair of damage to human physiology, according to Dr. Garcia-Larsen.

12_21_2017 Fresh tomatoes could reverse lung damage in both smokers and nonsmokers, according to new study. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

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