Treating Asthma with Fruits and Vegetables

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

“Treating Asthma With Fruits and Vegetables” In the international study of asthma and
allergies in childhood of over a million kids, a consistent inverse relationship, meaning
a protective relationship, was seen, between prevalence rates of asthma, allergies, and eczema, and the intake of plants, starch, grains, and vegetables. If these findings could be generalized, and if the average daily consumption
of these foods increased, researchers speculated over a decade ago an important decrease in
symptoms prevalence may be achieved. No need to speculate any more, though;
plants were finally put to the test. Researchers had proposed that by eating
less and less fruits and vegetables, this had increased the susceptibility
of the population as a whole to potentially harmful inhaled substances by reducing the antioxidant defenses within our lungs. That makes sense. The thin lining
of fluid that forms the interface between our lung lining and the external environment is our first line of defense against oxidative damage, which plays an important role in asthma, contributing to airway constriction,
contraction, mucous, hypersensitivity. Antioxidants protect against oxidative stress, though, and so our lung lining contains a range
of antioxidants our body makes itself, as well as those obtained from our diet,
particularly from fruits and vegetables. In fact we can even quantify the level
of oxidative stress in people by measuring the level of oxidation
products in their exhaled breath, which drops as they start eating
more fruits and vegetables, then drops further when they combine
more plants with less animal foods. So do those with asthma really have lower levels
of antioxidants than people without asthma? Compared to healthy controls, subjects with asthma had lower whole blood levels of total carotenoids, and each of the individual plant
phytonutrients they measured, cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein,
alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, compared to healthy controls.
So the accumulating evidence does suggest that diet has an influence on modulating the response
of the lung to inhaled allergens and irritants. But wait second. It’s possible that the reduced
carotenoid levels in asthma are a result of increased utilization
in the presence of excess free radicals. So it’s like a chicken-or-the-egg phenomenon. Or in cholesterol-free vernacular,
which came first: the pea or the pod? We know antioxidant-rich diets have been
associated with reduced asthma prevalence. However, direct evidence that altering intake of antioxidant-rich foods actually
affects asthma was lacking, until now. There’s two ways to test the effects
of fruits and vegetables on asthma. Add fruits and vegetables to people’s
diets and see if their asthma improves, or, like they did here, take asthmatics and remove fruits and vegetables from
their diets and see if they get worse. This was the first research group to see if altering the intake of antioxidant-rich
foods directly affects asthma outcomes. Placing subjects with asthma on a low
antioxidant diet for just a matter of days led to a significant worsening of lung
function and asthma control. “This finding is highly significant
for subjects with asthma, as it indicates that omitting antioxidant-rich foods
from the diet, for even a short time frame, will have a detrimental effect on asthma symptoms.” Interestingly, ironically, the low
antioxidant diet consumed by the subjects, where they were restricted to one serving of fruit and only up to two servings of vegetables
per day, is typical of Western diets. In other words, the low antioxidant diet
they used to worsen people’s asthma, to cripple their lung function, was just
like the standard American diet. As about half the population usually consumes a diet with an intake of fruit and vegetables
equivalent to the study diet or less, it appears likely that this dietary pattern, which
must be considered suboptimal for lung health, may be having a significant impact on asthma management, indicating the potential for typical Western dietary patterns to contribute to a worsening
of lung function and asthma control. Within just days, cutting down fruit and
vegetable intake can impair lung function, but does adding fruits and vegetables
actually help with asthma? That was the second phase of the study. Asthmatics on the standard American diet
in this study had about a 40% chance of relapsing into an asthma
exacerbation within three months. But put them on seven servings of fruits
and vegetables instead of three and you can cut their exacerbation
rate in half, down to 20%. Just with a few fruits and vegetables.

27 thoughts on “Treating Asthma with Fruits and Vegetables

  1. Dr. Greger you are the best!  I thank you so much for sharing NutritionFacts.  I often watch them more than once to totally absorb the information.  18 months ago, I became a vegan.  I went cold turkey (no turkey etc..) after watching Gary Yourofsky best speech. That's all it took for me after 49 years of eating meat three meals daily to being an active Vegan. I was fat, sick, diabetic and on a std fat person diet of pills.  I have reduce the pills and I am slowing losing weight.  Not only have I gone vegan, but I built my own geodesic dome to house my own aquaponics farm.  Coldest winter since 1904 in Wisconsin and I still kept it warm and harvested fresh healthy veggies each month.  I intend to build larger farm and actively seek to convert meat eaters to veganism to help save people from disease and early death.  May I have your permission to reference and use bits of your videos to show others and include clips in my business plan/funding requests?  I find your videos incredibly powerful and rather than me just telling people what I remember I want to get them to watch your videos or perhaps I could copy and play them at our next vegan meetup.  Again, could I have your permission to do so?  Please Please Please keep making these videos because you are doing the world a great service to anyone smart enough to listen.  Thank You!

  2. Dr. Greger I would love if you could do a video on the best fruits and veggies for asthma, I've been following a vegan diet for a half a year now, but still find myself struggling somewhat and I would like to know exactly what I can eat in order to control my asthma. 

  3. I new that diet and asthma – allergies are very connected, but until now I didn't know why or have the evidence to support that claim. Thank you Dr. Greger for this video, its in my "Favorites" list. 

  4. Would be interesting to see the results for not only increasing fruits and vegetables amount in the diet, but also remove meat completely (and than the diary products). I was heavily allergic to some trees for couple of years, than turned vegetarian and after 2 years the allergy was gone. May have something to do with the lung thing, explained in the video.

  5. I guess I need to eat more fruits and veggies. I have been doing a McDougall style starch based diet. However my intake of fruits and veggies is lower than it should be. I guess more juices and smoothies are in order. If I can get off my asthma medication that would be great. But even lowering my medication needs is something. Even if it does nothing for my asthma, more fruits and veggies will make me healthier. So there is no good reason not to try it.

  6. My question would be, is there any added benefit to consuming, say, 20 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, or does it top out, at, say 10?

  7. I was an asthmatic all my life until about 18 months ago, which I just so happened to take an interest in diet and its effect on health, welbeing, and the prevention of illness and disease. The hard part for me was really breaking away from adopted 'tradition' or dietary practices within my family, and also' 'treatment' based solutions and medical practices that did little to address the underlying cause which was apparently diet.
    There is too much focus on medication, caloric control, alternative medicine what I see now as an inherently superficial picture of what was going on.
    Here's the thing: I still eat meat, fish, dairy and eggs. But that's not the whole picture.
    Instead of drinking cows milk, I now drink soy milk made from WHOLE soy beans;
    instead of eating white bread and rice, I now only eat wholegrain bread;
    I watch my sugar intake, and opt for whole plant-based/unrefined foods, especially for breakfast;
    (before I would have cornflakes and milk, now it's largely oats, ground/whole nuts and seeds, dried and/or fresh fruit, and maybe some cocoa);
    I eat a tonne of plant-based foods, and opt to eat locally, and simply;
    I now only eat meat no more than twice a week, and when I do, I ensure I look to the animal's welfare, the environmental impact, and eat only a very small portion.
    I do not eat processed meat any longer;
    I only consume mouthful of anything dairy such as if a cake was offered, I would happily have a very small piece, or if yogurt was to accompany an Indian dish.

    I've also learnt how to cook rather well, and in a rather diverse way.

    I believe the best practice is to take things with a less 'extreme' approach, and to try and lead by example. Veganism in its philosophy has the tendency to polarise people; and to encourage a significant reduction of meat/fish in one's diet rather than eliminating it completely may be the best approach. I know many who have gone to veganism, and then reverted back to a more extreme version of a meat/animal-based diet, and then begin to talk about the adverse reactions to their poorly planed, but vegan diet.

  8. What do I do I have 6 illnesses and I'm on a ton of medicine. I've been on a vegan diet and have junk food minimally. What am I doing wrong dr Gregor?

  9. I would love to interview people that have cured their Asthma, and other illnesses. We live in exciting times. Thank you Dr Greger, you are my HERO.

  10. There are a few things for lessening asthma
    Know Your Triggers.
    Check Air Quality Reports.
    Clear the Smoke.
    (I read these and why they work on Laken Chest Remedy site )

  11. Sugar is bad doesn't matter where it comes from fruit or candy so I don't think it's the greatest idea to be consuming a lot of fruit or really any fruit for that matter unless you consume it's extract

  12. I eat a strict plant-based diet but still have bad asthma if I don't use my steroid inhaler. Do you know why that might be? I've been strict for about 2 months, and vegan for 6 months.

  13. 7 servings of fruits? How much fructose is that?
    Is there a safer way of getting enough of the same antioxidants?
    Can somebody put that to the test?

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