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Take-aways linked to asthma and eczema

New research has found that eating highly processed convenience foods can lead to an increased risk of asthma and eczema in children.  Rising levels of allergy-related conditions in more than 500,000 children in over 50 countries have been directly correlated to poor dietary patterns.

Data showed children risked severe asthma, watery eyes, itchy skin and eczema when consuming foods such as take-away burgers and other convenience foods.

It was found that teenagers who ate three or more weekly servings of take-aways had a 39 percent increased risk of severe asthma.  Six and seven-year-olds were found to have a 27 percent greater risk. 

"If the associations between fast foods and the symptom prevalence of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema is causal, then the findings have major public health significance owing to the rising consumption of fast foods globally,” according to the study authors, Prof Innes Asher, from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and Prof Hywel Williams, from the University of Nottingham in the UK.

Treating the cause of asthma

Take-away foods often contain dangerous levels processed sugars, saturated- and trans-fatty acids that can negatively harm one’s immune system.  The strength of one’s immune system is directly related to the body’s ability to fight off and respond to allergens that are in our environment. 

The common treatment includes inhalers, creams and other ointments that treat the symptoms without addressing the underlying cause of the conditions.  Conditions that are developed at an early age are commonly more difficult to treat and reverse over time. 

Fruits boost one’s immunity

The report demonstrates the importance of eating plenty of fruit.  Fruits are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and are found to be protective against immune suppression. 

Simply by eating three or more portions of fruit per week was found to cut the risk of severe asthma, eczema and rhinoconjunctivitis by 11 to 14 percent.

Historically individuals who have asthma were not required to follow a special diet.  The findings of the study suggest that an improved diet could improve or lessen the severity of asthma symptoms as well. 
Asthma UK advises people with asthma to eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes at least five servings of fruit or vegetables every day and fish more than twice a week. 

Other contributing food allergies can be looked at if the individual is consuming the adequate amount of fruits and vegetables as well. Food products such as cow’s milk, nuts, gluten, shellfish and foods that have preservatives and colorings can possibly make the conditions worse. 

Vitamin D and asthma

Increasing one’s vitamin D can significantly improve asthma according to recent research published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.  Researchers found that vitamin D deficiency is linked to increased airway reactivity, lower lung function and worse asthma control. 

Vitamin D supplementation may improve asthma control by blocking inflammation in the airways and lungs.  Inflammation is the leading cause of airway constriction and asthma.

Vitamin D is often called "the sunshine vitamin" because our bodies make it when we are exposed to sunlight but it is also available in one’s diet. Vitamin D rich foods include:

  • Fish such as tuna fish, salmon, mackerel and sardines
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt
A healthy diet means eating natural versus processed food items.  Fruits, vegetables and healthy-lean meats will strengthen one’s immune system versus deplete it. To prevent or treat asthma – improve your diet.

Dr Cory Couillard is an international healthcare speaker and columnist for numerous newspapers, magazines, websites and publications throughout the world. He works in collaboration with the World Health Organization's goals of disease prevention and global healthcare education. Views do not necessarily reflect endorsement.

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Twitter: DrCoryCouillard


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