LOW-CALORIE diets may help prevent asthma symptoms, scientists claim.
It doesn’t matter how much fat or sugar you eat, they say, as long as you’re consuming less energy overall.
Scientist think they’ve cracked the link between obesity, inflammation and asthma – as well potentially having a better drug for treating asthma in obese people[/caption]
In a new study, they’ve found that obesity resulting from high-calorie diets can lead to asthma symptoms in animals as a result of lung inflammation.
But they also found in their study that an anti-inflammatory drug helped to ease the asthma symptoms in mice, and that’s led them conclude that it might be worth treating obese people who have breathing difficulties with a similar drug.
“Previous studies suggested that the high fat or high sugar content in diets that led to obesity promoted inflammation and caused asthma,” said Dr Vsevolod Polotsky, professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and senior author of the study.
We don’t know if obesity causes asthma or if asthma causes obesity but either way, a low-cal diet may help soothe the symptoms[/caption]
“However, our study shows that obesity leads to inflammation-associated asthma symptoms regardless of the makeup of the diet, and that restricting calories by any means may prevent or treat asthma by reducing inflammation.”
Dr Polotsky said that his team’s study sought to confirm the links between obesity, asthma, diet and inflammation, as well as develop new potential treatment options.
Steroid inhalers don’t work as well for asthmatics who are obese.
The study involved feeding normal male mice one of four diets.
It doesn’t matter if you eat a high fat or sugar diet – so long as the overall calorie count is low[/caption]
The first was a low-calorie chow diet (crunchy food pellets). The second was a high-calorie diet with more fat per gram. The third was a high-calorie diet with more fat and sugar per gram. The forth was a high-calorie, high transfat diet with sugar.
There were other groups of mice fed calorie-dense diets but their daily food intake was restricted to match the number of calories that mice ate on the low-cal diet.
After eight weeks, the mice on any of the high-calorie diets gained at least 7g more than the mice on the low-calorie diet or the ones on the food-restricted calorie-dense diets.
Researchers then tested the rodents’ lung function to see if the mice were developing asthma symptoms.
Symptoms of asthma
Asthma is a respiratory condition caused by inflammation of the breathing tubes that carry air to and from our lungs, and it currently affects over 5 million people across the UK.
According to the NHS, the main symptoms of asthma are:
- Wheezing (a whistling sound when breathing)
- A tight chest
They found that the airwaves of the high-cal, non-restricted diet mice restricted at least 6.3 times more than the baseline.
The next stage of the study involved injecting one group of mice with a drug called anakinra every day during the last two weeks to block the activity of an inflammatory protein.
Anakinra tends to be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
When the obese mice were tested again after taking this drug, their airways only constricted 2.9 times more than the baseline – 5.1 times lower than the obese mice who had not been given it.
Asthma is a common chronic lung disease in which inflammation causes narrowing of airways, leading to wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness.
MORE ON ASTHMA
We’ve known for years that obese people are more likely than slimmer people to develop certain kinds of asthma or have asthma symptoms increase.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 38.8 per cent of adults with asthma are obese, much higher than the obesity rate in adults without asthma, which stands at 26.8 per cent.
Of course, that could be because having asthma stops some people from being active…or it could be that being inactive and overweight puts pressure on the body which prompts an asthmatic response.
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