As the popular saying goes, 'you are what you eat,' but did you realize that what you eat impacts how well you breathe as well as impacting how you feel?

As a matter of fact, some of the latest research reveals that eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats is not only very good for you can actually improve your asthma symptoms as well.

The Diet and Asthma Connection

Scientists studying the health of children who live in the Mediterranean region of Crete found that those who eat a healthy diet heavy on local vegetables, fruits and nuts (known as "The Mediterranean Diet") seem to have a lower incidence of asthma and other respiratory problems than their counterparts in other parts of the world who eat more junk food. Researchers speculate that the reason for this significant difference is that these healthy foods add an important protective factor that heads of allergy and asthma symptoms.  Grapes, for example, seem to be especially effective when it comes to diet and asthma/allergies.

The antioxidant in these healthy foods could be at the root of the effects by improving the body's breathing function and reducing wheezing and allergic rhinitis symptoms.

The Rural Advantage

What prompted researchers to make this diet and asthma connection? This interest in diet and asthma came about when scientists noticed that children in Crete and other more rural Mediterranean regions seemed to have a much lower rate of allergies and asthma than children who live in cities and wanted to better understand to the reason for this difference.

The findings of the study, which confirm that eating patterns do affect asthma and allergy symptoms, are consistent the results of other, similar research efforts that have examined the benefits of such healthy eating patterns.

The Mediterranean Diet's Reach

While the effects of eating the Mediterranean Diet have been shown to be beneficial in children in Crete, the effects actually extend far beyond this region. In fact, a similar study done in Mexico that looked at children's eating patterns and the diet that their mothers followed during pregnancy and similarly concluded that a healthy diet can be protective in heading off asthma  and allergy symptoms in children there as well. What this means is that you, too, may reap the benefits of diet and asthma by piling your plate high with fruits and veggies.


National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)

Thorax Journal Online