An international team of researchers has discovered a direct link between eating fish, fruit and dairy products with improved lung function in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The study, which is being presented at the American Thoracic Society (ATS) 2014 International Conference, specifically examined COPD patients’ lung function within 24 hours of consuming fish, cheese, grapefruit and bananas.
“Diet is a potentially modifiable risk factor in the development and progression of many diseases, and there is evidence that diet plays a role in both the development and clinical features of COPD,” said Corinne Hanson, PhD, assistant professor of Medical Nutrition at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. “This study aimed to evaluate that association.”
The research team used data collected as part of the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints study (ECLIPSE), which was designed to determine the progression of COPD and identify biomarkers associated with the disease. The team analyzed limited diet records for 2,167 ECLIPSE subjects. The participants provided dietary intake information eight times over a three-year period, reporting the amount of a specific food they had consumed during the past 24 hours.
Standard lung functionality measurements for the same group were analyzed. These assessments included the six-minute walk test (SMWT), St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) scores and inflammatory biomarkers. The team adjusted their findings for age, sex, body mass index (BMI) and smoking.
According to the results, people who reported recently consuming fish, grapefruit, bananas or cheese showed improvement in lung function, less emphysema, improved scores on the SMWT, improved scores on the SGRQ, and a decrease in certain inflammatory biomarkers associated with poor lung function including white blood cells and C-reactive protein.
“This study demonstrates the nearly immediate effects a healthy diet can have on lung function in in a large and well-characterized population of COPD patients,” Hanson said. “It also demonstrates the potential need for dietary and nutritional counseling in patients who have COPD.”
Hanson believes that the link between diet as a modifiable risk factor in COPD and the results of the new study deserves further investigation.
To properly diagnose and treat your COPD patients, implementing Spirometry into your practice is a key component to caring for your patients. Encouraging them to eat healthier and take better care of themselves along with their treatment plan will help their lung function and overall health.