Improving dietary habits can reduce asthma: report

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Dec 28, 2012 - Page 4

Joint research investigating the effect of dietary components on asthma has shown that combining multiple beneficial elements can greatly decrease dependence on asthma medication and enhance lung functions, a research report by the National Health Research Institute said yesterday.

An international study conducted in 2009 showed that one out of every 10 Taiwanese schoolchildren has asthma.

The new study, which appeared in this month’s edition of the British Journal of Nutrition, was a 16-week double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial on 192 schoolchildren in fifth and sixth grade from Taipei and New Taipei City (新北市).

While the control group received a placebo, the supplemental group was given fruit plus a vegetable concentrate, fish oil and probiotics supplements, postdoctoral researcher Lee Shu-chen (李淑貞) said.

The supplements were roughly equal to the nutrient value of four servings, each roughly the size of a fist, of fresh vegetables and fruit, along with 35g of deep-sea fish such as Pike Mackerel, salmon or tuna and 200cc of yogurt in liquid form, or 100g of yogurt, the report said.

The supplemental group experienced a doubling of peak respiratory flow index, a reduction in usage of inhaled corticosteroids from six times a week to three, and reduced use of short-acting bronchodilators from once per week to 0.5 times a week, Lee said.

By changing their diet and eating more vegetables, fruits, yogurt, deep-sea fish and even kimchi, and avoiding deep-fried or processed food, asthmatic schoolchildren receive natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory mediators which could alleviate their symptoms, Lee said.

The institutes’ Center for Health Policy Research and Development director Pan Wen-han (潘文涵) also suggested children eat more healthily, saying that deep-fried and processed foods, as well as drinks with high sugar content, can induce asthma attacks.