Mediterranean diet wards off childhood respiratory allergies

Apr 05, 2007

A "Mediterranean" diet rich in fruits, vegetables and nuts protects against allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms, suggests research published ahead of print in Thorax.

The researchers assessed the dietary habits, respiratory symptoms, and allergic reactions of almost 700 children living in four rural areas on the Greek island of Crete.

The children were all aged between 7 and 18 years of age.

Skin allergies are relatively common in Crete, but respiratory allergies, such as asthma and allergic rhinitis are relatively rare.

Parents completed detailed questionnaires on their children's allergic and respiratory symptoms and dietary habits.

Whether the children ate a "Mediterranean" diet was measured against a set of 12 foodstuffs, including fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, legumes, nuts, and olive oil.

Eight out of 10 children ate fresh fruit, and over two thirds of them ate fresh vegetables, at least twice a day.

The effect of diet was strongest on allergic rhinitis, but it also afforded protection against asthma symptoms and skin allergy.

Children who ate nuts at least three times a week were less likely to wheeze.

Nuts are a rich source of vitamin E, the body's primary defence against cellular damage caused by free radicals. And they contain high levels of magnesium, which other research suggests, may protect against asthma and boost lung power.

And a daily diet of oranges, apples, and tomatoes also protected against wheezing and allergic rhinitis.

Grapes in particular seemed to protect against current and previous wheezing and allergic rhinitis, even after adjusting for other potentially influential factors.

Red grape skin contains high levels of antioxidants as well as resveratrol, a potent polyphenol, known to curb inflammatory activity, say the authors.

But high consumption of margarine doubled the chances of asthma and allergic rhinitis, the findings showed.

Source: BMJ Specialty Journals

Explore further: Gastroenterology Special Issue confirms: You are what you eat

Related Stories

Recommended for you

The struggle between humans and parasites

52 minutes ago

The battle between humanity and parasites is a constant struggle. As parasites grow stronger by developing immunities, new treatments must be created in response. On the frontlines of this struggle are parasitologists, scientists ...

Chikungunya kills 25 in Colombia

4 hours ago

The virus chikungunya has killed 25 people in Colombia in less than a year, the National Health Institute said Monday.

Time to move Lyme Disease Awareness Month to April?

15 hours ago

The month of May brings many things, among them Mother's Day, tulips, and Lyme Disease Awareness campaigns. But according to Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem ...

An explanation of wild birds' role in avian flu outbreak

17 hours ago

Wild birds are believed to be behind the first major widespread outbreak of bird flu in the United States. The H5N2 virus has cost Midwestern turkey and chicken producers almost 13 million birds since early March, including ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.