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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Do high fat foods cause asthma?

The following post was originally published at HealthCentral/asthma on 5/16/2011:

"Do high fat foods trigger asthma?"

American's love Big Macs, Whoppers, French fries, onion rings and deep fried chicken.  These are convenient foods that are simply delicious.  Yet the old saying goes, "If it tastes good, it's probably not good for you."

Now we already knew such high-fat foods are bad for your heart.  Yet new evidence suggests they may also be bad for your lungs.

A study completed by Australian researchers in 2010 tested asthmatics before and after eating a meal, and determined that lung function was worse after eating a high-fat meal.

If that wasn't bad enough, the study also concluded that high-fat foods also made it so asthma rescue medicine (like Albuterol) worked less well.

Scientists aren't sure why this is, yet there are theories.  One theory suggests that your asthmatic immune system might recognize saturated fat as an enemy and promptly acts to rid it from your system.

This response results in an increase in markers of inflammation such as leukotrienes and hystamine, and these increase inflammation in your respiratory tract.  This causes muscles lining your air passages to constrict, and thus an asthma attack is the result.

Perhaps due to the increased inflammation, asthmatics who used their rescue medicine after eating a high-fat meal did not get as much relief as those who ate low-fat meals.   Likewise, lung function improved less in subjects who used their rescue medicine after eating high-fat meals.

Obviously asthma rates have increased incrementally in the U.S. and other western nations over the past 20 years.  This new theory suggests one of the factors might be the high-fat foods we put into our bodies.

I've also read other studies that suggest that if you're exposed to something that triggers inflammation in your lungs, and exposed to it often enough, the inflammation may become permanent.  Thus, asthma is developed.

It's studies like this that remind us that the way we eat may determine the lives we live.  If you want to prevent asthma, or prevent an asthma flare, it may be a good idea to eat a healthy diet.

Does that mean we asthmatics should never eat great tasting, convenient and high-fat foods?  Absolutely not.  Yet it's good to know the facts, and it's good to know what foods might not be good for us.

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