A diet rich in fish and specific vegetables can reduce asthma and allergies in children, according to a seven-year study of 460 Spanish children, published in the journal Pediatric Allergy and Immunology.
“We believe that this is the first study that has assessed the impact of a child’s diet on asthma and allergies and also taken into account the food their mother ate during pregnancy” says lead author Dr Leda Chatzi from the Department of Social Medicine at the University of Crete, Greece.
The findings also reinforce the researchers’ earlier findings that a fish-rich diet in pregnancy can help to protect children from asthma and allergies.
“Because we studied the children from pregnancy to childhood, we were able to include a wide range of elements in our analysis, including maternal diet during pregnancy, breastfeeding, smoking, the mother’s health history, parental education and social class.” Said Chatzi
Following the progress of the children, on the Spanish island of Menorca, at regular intervals from before they were born until they were six-and-a-half, researchers found that:
1: Children who consumed more than 40 grams of a day of “fruity” vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, cucumber, green beans and zucchini were much less likely to suffer from childhood asthma.
2: Children who consumed more than 60 grams of fish a day also suffered less childhood allergies, echoing the protective effects they experienced when their mothers ate fish during pregnancy.
The dietary effects were quite specific, said researchers, and other fruits and vegetables examined did not provide the same protective effect, nor did dairy products, meat, poultry and bread.
“The biological mechanisms that underlie the protective affect of these foods is not fully understood, but we believe that the fruity vegetables and fish reduce the inflammation associated with asthma and allergies. “ added Chatzi
The study provides parents with clear guidance, and confirms, the importance of diet in promoting health for the whole family said researchers.
Pediatric Allergy and Immunology