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Teens Healthy Diet Promotes Healthy Lungs

February 16, 2009


According to government statistics, about 20% of Americans under the age of 18 have chronic asthma, making it the one of the most common diseases among children and adolescents.  Asthma is a debilitating condition in which lung tissue periodically becomes inflamed.  Asthma can lead to hospitalization and occasionally has fatal complications.

Jane Burns, the study’s lead author (published July 9, 2007 in the journal, Chest) is a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.  She found that key nutrients—like the antioxidants found in fruits and omega-3 fats—may prove vital for maintaining lung health.  Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E may “protect the lung from stress,” she says, and “omega-3 tends to reduce inflammation.”

The study found that the more teens skimp on eating fruit, vegetables, and other nutrient-rich foods, the more likely they are to report breathing problems such as coughing, wheezing, episodes of bronchitis, and even chronic asthma. The study involved more than 2,000 high school seniors from across the US and Canada.  Participants measured their lung function and gave detailed accounts of their eating habits and any respiratory problems.

Smoking caused a teen’s risk of developing lung problems to quadruple.  And teens with both poor nutrition and a cigarette habit had seven times the asthma risk that their peers faced. Where respiratory health is concerned, Burns surmises, a bad diet may “enhance the effect of smoking in a negative way.”

Let’s add this all up…chronic stress + a bad diet + smoking + being a teenager = a lifetime of health problems that make that person dependent on medication for the rest of their lives.  And, even with multiple expensive prescriptions that they will have to take until they die, their quality of life will be permanently impaired.  Sounds like many Americans today.  Imagine the solution is as simple as a healthy lifestyle where we eat well, learn to deal with stress and never smoke.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 18, 2009 8:19 pm

    Great post Dr.Ryan, keep em’ coming!

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