Monday, October 19, 2009

A Healthy Diet Can Help Play An Important Role In Controlling Asthma Symptoms

Several studies over the last couple of years have shown that following a "Mediterranean" diet may protect against respiratory allergies and asthma in children. You may be aware that over the past 20 years, childhood allergy and asthma rates have greatly increased in many countries, including the U.S. In Crete, however, children continue to have low rates of both of these conditions. Researchers believe that the food these children eat is the reason. Children in Crete eat many more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables than typical children in the U.S. In particular, researchers found that apples, oranges, fresh tomatoes and grapes had a protective effect against wheezing and allergic rhinitis.

Individual foods or food groups that contributed to the protective effect of the Mediterranean diet included fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and cereals. Foods that had a detrimental effect on asthma symptoms included red meat, margarine, and junk food.

Bottom line: Feeding all children a Mediterranean diet is a great idea even if they don't suffer from asthma or respiratory allergies. The Mediterranean diet (see picture above) focuses on a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, healthy fats such as olive oil, and small amounts of fish. Moderate amounts of milk, yogurt and cheese are also included on the Mediterranean diet (obviously you would leave out the wine recommendation when feeding children). Eating a Mediterranean diet has been shown to be protective and decrease risk for many other conditions such as hypertension, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.

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