Eating fresh fruits can keep lungs young, a new study rom the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found.
Ex-smokers with a diet high in apples and tomatoes in particular and other fresh produce have better chances of restoring their lung functions than those who skimp on these foods, according to the research published in the December issue of the European Respiratory Journal.
“This study shows that diet might help repair lung damage in people who have stopped smoking,” said lead author Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health. “It also suggests that a diet rich in fruits can slow down the lung’s natural aging process even if you have never smoked.”
Your lungs mature by the time you are about 20-25 years old. After about the age of 35, their function declines, according to the American Lung Association. The study suggests that diet could become a way to keep lungs young.
Garcia-Larsen’s research analyzed lung function and diet of 650 adults from German, Norway and the UK. Subjects were assessed in 2002 and ten years later.
Findings showed that subjects who ate more than two tomatoes or more than three portions of fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis had a slower decline in lung function, compared to those who ate less than one tomato or less than one portion of fruits, respectively, a day.
The researchers found an even more striking connection between diet and lung-function among former smokers. These subjects had a slower decline over the 10-year period because their diets were highly rich in fresh fruits. The protective impact was only from unprocessed foods.
“Our study,” said Garcia-Larsen, “suggests that eating more fruits on a regular basis can help attenuate the decline as people age, and might even help repair damage caused by smoking.”
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