NMU 125 – Omega 3 reduces asthma children
Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No 125 (April 5, 2019)
with Dr. James Meschino
Topic: Higher Omega-3 Fat Intake Reduces Asthma Symptoms in Children
Source: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (March 2019)
A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, in March of 2019, showed that higher omega-3 fat intake and lower omega-6 fat intake may help to protect children against asthma attacks. The study included 135 children, ages 5-12 (average age: 9.5), with asthma. Roughly a third of the children had mild asthma, a third moderate and a third had severe asthma. Their diet, daily asthma symptoms, and asthma medication use were assessed for one week at enrollment and again for one week at three and six months. The study showed that children with higher levels of omega-3 fats in their diets had less severe asthma and fewer symptoms in response to exposure to higher levels of indoor particulate air pollution. Whereas, children with higher levels of omega-6 fats in their diets had more severe asthma and more symptoms in response to exposure to higher levels of indoor particulate matter.
During the same time periods, the investigators measured two types of home indoor particulate pollution. When inhaled, these larger particles are deposited along the airways. The study also found that higher levels of omega-6 fats in the children’s diet correlated with higher percentages of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell linked with inflammation) in response to particulate pollution. So, omega-6 fats (bad fats) prompted more white blood cell inflammatory response upon inhalation of various air particles known to trigger asthma. The lead author of the study, Dr. Bringham stated, “There is mounting evidence that diet, particularly omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, may play a role in lung health”.
Omega-3 fats are likely helpful in minimizing asthma severity as our tissues convert omega-3 fats into anti-inflammatory local hormones (prostaglandin series-3), at the cellular level, whereas omega-6 fats can be converted by our tissues into inflammatory local hormones (prostaglandin series-2).
Good sources of omega-3 fats include:
- Fatty fish such as mackerel salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring and tuna (but not to be consumed more than twice a week)
- Omega-3 fat supplements from fish and flaxseed oil
- Soybeans and soy products
Omega-6 fats (bad fats) are found in many common vegetable oils, especially corn and mixed vegetable oils. Thus, it is better to use olive oil on salads or to saute vegetables, as it is high in monounsaturated fat, which does not form prostaglandins in the body. Omega-6 fats are also high in beef or red meat products, as well as high-fat dairy products and egg yolks.
So, for individuals with asthma, paying closer attention to increasing omega-3 fat intake and limiting omega-6 fat intake, maybe a beneficial adjunct in the short and long-term management of this condition.
I have included the reference for this study in the text below.
Emily P Brigham, Han Woo, Meredith McCormack, Jessica Rice, Kirsten Koehler, Tristan Vulcain Tianshi Wu, Abigail Koch, Sangita Sharma, Fariba Kolahdooz, Sonali Bose; Corrine Hanson, Karina Romero; Gregory Diette, and Nadia N Hansel. Omega-3 and Omega-6 Intake Modifies Asthma Severity and Response to Indoor Air Pollution in Children. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 2019. 10.1164/rccm.201808-1474OC
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