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Healthy Diet Could Mean Immediate Improvement for COPD Patients

A new study conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center, along with researchers from the United States and Europe, shows a direct link between eating fish, fruits, and dairy and improved lung function among those living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The study, reported in Health Canal, was presented at the American Thoracic Society’s 2014 International Conference.

Researchers looked at COPD patients’ lung function within 24 hours of eating grapefruit, bananas, fish and cheese. They used “data from the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints study (ECLIPSE). ECLIPSE was designed to help determine how COPD progresses and to identify biomarkers associated with the disease”.

Lead author Corinne Hanson, Ph.D. found that diet is “a potentially modifiable risk factor in the development and progression of many diseases, and there is evidence that diet plays a role in both the development and clinical features of COPD”.

What sets this study apart from other similar research that associate diet with improved lung function is the immediacy of the reaction. Participating patients reported the type of food they had consumed in the previous 24 hours. For those in the variable test category, this included grapefruit, bananas, fish and cheese. These patients showed “improvement in lung function, less emphysema, improved 6-minute walk scores, and a decrease in certain inflammatory markers associated with poor lung function including white blood cells and C-reactive protein,” wrote the authors.

Dr. Hanson says the findings “demonstrate the nearly immediate effects a healthy diet can have on lung function in a large and well-characterized population of COPD patients.”

These findings are important because they demonstrate the potential need for and benefits of dietary counseling for COPD patients. Dr. Hanson notes that diet has been proven to have both immediate and long term effects on COPD and should be a continued area for research.

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