Eating fish such as trout, salmon, and sardines can significantly help in reducing asthma symptoms in children, a study led by Australian researchers have reported.
The international study found that children with asthma, who followed a healthy Mediterranean diet that were enriched with fatty fish had improved lung function after 6 months.
Lead researcher Maria Papamichael, from La Trobe said the findings added to a growing body of research evidence, that a healthy diet could be a potential therapy for childhood asthma.
“We already know that a diet high in sugar, fat, and salt can influence the progression and development of asthma in children, and now we have evidence that it is also possible to help manage asthma symptoms by eating healthy,” Ms. Papamichael said.
“Fatty fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Our study showed that eating fish just twice a week can significantly decrease lung inflammation in children with asthma.”
Head of La Trobe’s School of Allied Health and Co-researcher, Professor Catherine Itsiopoulos, said the results were promising.
“Following a traditional Mediterranean diet that is rich in oily fish and plant-based foods could be a safe, easy and effective way to reduce asthma symptoms in children,” Professor Itsiopoulos said.
Associate Professor Bircan Erbas, from La Trobe’s School of Psychology and Public Health, is an expert in allergies and asthma, who co-supervised the trial.
“Asthma is the most common respiratory disease in young people, and is also one of the leading reasons for trips to emergency and hospitalisations for children,” Associate Professor Erbas said.
“Unfortunately, the rate of asthma worldwide remains high. It is imperative that we identify new therapies that can be use alongside conventional asthma medications.”
The clinical trial involved 64 children from Athens in Greece, whose age ranges from 5-12, who had mild asthma. Researchers from Greece and Australia divided the children into 2 groups, and instructed around half to eat 2 meals of cooked fatty fish (of at least 150 grams), as part of the Greek Mediterranean diet weekly for six months. The remaining children followed their normal diet.
At the end of the trial, the researchers reported the group who ate fish had reduced their bronchial inflammation by 14 units. Above 10 units is significant under international guidelines.
You can find the study’s findings in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.
More information: M. M. Papamichael et al. Efficacy of a Mediterranean diet that is supplemented with fatty fish in ameliorating inflammation in paediatric asthma: a randomised controlled trial, Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (2018). DOI: 10.1111/jhn.12609
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