COPD :: A meaty, salty, starchy diet may impact chronic lung disease

A new study finds that eating mostly meat, refined starches, and sodium may increase the likelihood of developing chronic respiratory symptoms, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Researchers found that individuals whose diets are rich in meat, refined starches and sodium are 1.43 times more likely to report new onset of persistent coughs with phlegm than those who consume a diet high in fruit and soy.

Understanding all the contributing factors, including the role that diet plays in the incidence and development of chronic respiratory symptoms will lead to better prevention and treatment of respiratory diseases, said David A. Schwartz, M.D., the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the component of the National Institutes of Health, that supported the study.

We know that cigarette smoking can be a specific cause of COPD, but now we’re learning that avoiding certain foods may help reduce chronic respiratory symptoms, both in smokers and non-smokers.

The results appearing online in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine analyzed data to assess the usual dietary intake of 52,325 participants. Although the study was conducted within a Singaporean population, the dietary patterns are reflective of U.S. eating patterns. The study population consisted of men and women of Chinese ethnicity ranging in ages from 45 to 74 at enrollment.

These are exceptional data on dietary habits, said NIEHS researcher Stephanie London, M.D., lead investigator on the study.

We are fortunate to have access to high quality dietary data from such a large number of participants to address the potential links with respiratory health.

Dr. Mimi Yu, of the University of Minnesota, founder of the Singapore Chinese Cohort, developed and validated a 165-item quantitative food frequency questionnaire in this population. The participants were presented with a list of 147 food items and 18 beverages and asked about the frequency of consumption of each item over a one-year period. For this paper, researchers used these data to analyze dietary patterns of the population, rather than simply looking at individual foods or nutrients as is usually done.

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