Fish consumption relieves asthma in children

Fish consumption relieves asthma in children

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Omega-3 fatty acids for symptoms of asthma?

It has been known for several years that increasing air pollution affects the likelihood of developing asthma and also the severity of the disease. New results show that nutrition can play an important role in the development of asthma. Omega-3 fatty acids appear to reduce asthma symptoms.

A recent study by Johns Hopkins University found that symptoms of asthma caused by air pollution can be reduced by the increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. The results of the study were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce asthma symptoms

The new study showed that higher omega-3 fatty acid consumption, such as those found in oily fish such as salmon and sardines, and in some vegetable sources such as walnuts and linseed, is associated with reduced asthma symptoms in urban children. Asthma is an inflammatory respiratory disease. When the body digests fish, the omega-3 fatty acids create by-product molecules, so-called pro-resolution mediators, which get into the lungs. There, they help to remove inflammation, the research team explains. Given this anti-inflammatory effect, they suspected that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids could mitigate the effects of air pollution on asthma symptoms in children.

135 children participated in the study

The study analyzed indoor nutrition and air pollution (from sources such as smoke, dust, and allergens) in the homes of 135 children with asthma in Baltimore. The researchers measured two types of indoor air pollution, which consist of different particle sizes: PM2.5 (fine inhalable particles that are 2.5 micrometers or smaller) and the slightly larger PM10. A higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids was associated with a reduced effect of indoor particles on the symptoms. Children who consumed more omega-3 fatty acids appeared to be more resistant to the effects of the particles.

What role do omega-6 fatty acids play?

The researchers also examined the intake of omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in vegetable oils and are abundant in many processed foods that contain oil. The study found that children who consumed most omega-6 fatty acids had more severe asthma symptoms. The role of omega-6 fatty acids in inflammation is complicated. It has been shown that some by-products of omega-6 acids (e.g. leukotrienes) are pro-inflammatory. Leukotrienes are one of the molecules that are known to be responsible for inflammation in asthma, the study authors explain.

Omega-3 fatty acids protect the heart

Since this is an observational study, the researchers cannot clearly prove that the omega-3 acids have led to a decrease in symptoms or that the high intake of omega-6 acids caused more serious symptoms. However, the results fit with a host of evidence documenting the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids. This study complements an ever-growing literature suggesting that diet can affect the health effects of air pollution. For example, a recent study published in the English-language journal "Circulation" found that a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases associated with long-term exposure to air pollutants. (as)

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