Healthy Eating Better for Lung Health, Study Finds

We know the benefits of healthy eating are many including a reduced risk of developing diabetes, stroke and heart disease, better digestion and healthier weight, to name a few. Now, new research points to better lung health as well, particularly in diets that are high in whole grains and polyunsaturated fats.

That’s the finding of research out of INSERM in France and published in a recent issue of the journal the BMJ.

The researchers looked at data from more than 100,000 people over a 16-year period, analyzing the connection between diet and pulmonary health via questionnaires on health issues and diet. During the study period, more than 800 cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were diagnosed. But individuals who consumed a diet rich in whole grains and polyunsaturated fats from nuts and other plant sources, while also avoiding red meat, refined grains and sugary drinks, had lower risks of COPD than those who did not adhere to healthy eating habits. The risk decreased dramatically among the healthy eating group.

“A high [Alternate Healthy Eating Index 2010] dietary score was associated with a lower risk of newly diagnosed COPD, a novel finding that supports the importance of diet in the pathogenesis of COPD, the study authors wrote, noting that the AHEI scores also correlate with lower risks of other major illnesses including obesity, hip fracture and prostate cancer.

While avoiding cigarette smoke and other lung irritants is most critical in lung health, the researchers noted that the risk of “newly diagnosed” COPD was about one-third lower in the participants who made healthy eating a dietary priority. A dozen factors were adjusted for was well including age, ethnicity, body mass index, physical activity and smoking.

The study’s finding is promising for people with lung-related issues as adjusting the diet could be helpful in treating and preventing COPD issues.

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