N° 17 | November 2007

Nutrition and lung health


Lung diseases have increased significantly in the last 10 years and account for substantial morbidity and mortality. The influence of dietary factors has generated growing interest because of their potential impact on the genesis and evolution of lung diseases, particularly in how they may modulate the effects of environmental exposures. These factors include antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and other micronutrients that might affect the immune response. Several epidemiological studies have suggested that greater intake of fresh fruits and antioxidant vitamins, particularly vitamin C, are related to lesser prevalence of cough, wheeze and asthma, and to a lower decline in lung function, and COPD symptoms (Romieu, 2001,2005) but there is little information on healthy dietary patterns in relation to obstructive lung disease. Three recent studies provide additional evidence for the impact of diet on lung diseases, in particular that high consumption of fruits and vegetables, fish and whole grain products as part of a “prudent dietary pattern” is related to higher pulmonary function and less respiratory symptoms in children (Burns, 2007) and lower incidence of COPD in adults (Varraso, 2007). Similarly, children with a better adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet, high in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and whole grain products had fewer asthma and allergic rhinitis symptoms (Chatzi, 207). It is time for health professionals to promote a “healthy dietary pattern” starting in childhood as part of public health messages in order to improve respiratory health

Romieu I. Nutrition and lung health. Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2005;9(4):362-74.
Romieu I, Trenga C. Diet and obstructive lung diseases. Epidemiologic Reviews

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