Natural asthma relievers typically aren’t an asthma sufferer’s first line of defense, but it seems that they should be. Since asthma afflicts millions of people all over the world and is expected to grow exponentially over the next 20 years, what can be done to stem the tide? As it turns out, it’s as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables.
Study after study over the last 25 years has proven over and over again that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is beneficial to lung health.
An Australian study performed in 2003, involving approximately 1600 people aged 20 to 44 found that those who consumed the largest quantity of apples and pears enjoyed the lowest rates of asthma (AJCN 2003; 78:414).
In a study at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, scientists looking at the diets of more than 2,500 people found that eating five or more apples or three or more tomatoes a week increased lung function. Eating apples and tomatoes also reduce the risk of wheezing.
“The likelihood is that any effect is due to the concerted action of all the nutrients in apples and tomatoes, especially the antioxidants that are particularly rich in the peel of apples and contribute to the coloring of tomatoes,” says researcher Sarah Lewis, Ph.D. “Antioxidants may work by protecting the airways against the insult of tobacco smoke and other atmospheric pollutants,” she adds.
Dr. Carol Trenga, Ph.D., a research scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle, recommends that everyone eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. She also notes, “It is reasonable to suggest modest supplementation with for example, vitamin C (250 — 500 mg twice/day) and vitamin E (up to 400 IU per day), in at risk populations as a complementary therapy after considering the specific needs of the individual… these levels are very safe and have other health benefits (such as vitamin E and heart disease) in addition to potentially improving lung health.”
“There is extensive evidence from studies over the last 10 to 15 years that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is beneficial to lung health,” observes Dr. Trenga, Ph.D.. “The most compelling evidence is linked to fruits high in vitamin C, which are associated with improved lung function in the general population of adults and children.”
On a global scale, the outlook for asthma is worrisome. Few serious measures are being taken to reduce global pollution and global warming and the national diet frequently neglects long friendly vegetables and fruits. But within that uncertain scenario, you can boost your chances of enjoying a healthy pair of lungs by eating more apples, pears and tomatoes.