Australian researchers discover asthma relief in fibre, fatty foods bad for asthma

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 27th March 2017

New Australian research has found a surprising link between taking fibre supplements and treating asthma.

Presented today at the Thoracic Society Annual Scientific Meeting in Canberra, scientists say fibre supplements could help those with asthma by changing bacteria in the gut.

“This is the first time anyone has looked at the impact of altering the gut microbiome on asthma control in humans,” said Professor Peter Gibson, President of the Australian and New Zealand Thoracic Society.

“We’re at the tip of a new paradigm for how diet can be used to treat asthma. This ground-breaking research offers hope of a viable, complementary treatment for tens of millions of asthmatics around the world struggling to control their asthma with existing medications,” he said.

How the study worked

The study, conducted by the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Healthy Lungs, gave asthmatics daily supplements with inulin, a soluble fibre supplement. Changes in asthma control (ACQ), lung function (FEV) and gut microbiota were then monitored.

The researchers found that the fibre supplements changed the gut microbiome which in turn had a positive effect on asthma control. The treatment was most effective in people whose asthma was poorly controlled at the start of the study.

Fatty foods can worsen asthma 

 Another study conducted by the researchers found easting as little as one meal high in saturated fats can worsen asthma inflammation.

The researchers said this is a results in a temporary narrowing of the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs, and leads to asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.

“For many obese asthmatics, using puffers to control their asthma simply isn’t working and it has doctors baffled,” said Professor Gibson.

“With almost two out of three adult Australians obese or overweight, this is becoming an increasingly pressing issue. These studies – which shed light on how diet can impact asthma by its effect on the gut microbiome and airway inflammation – hold particular significance for this group,” he said.

Study has lesson for all Australians

 The researchers said there was a lesson in the studies for all Australians, whether or not they have asthma.

“More and more we are learning about how our Westernised, highly processed diet is negatively impacting our health,” said spokesperson, Professor Lisa Wood from the University of Newcastle.

“These studies show both how diets high in fat can worsen asthma, and how – conversely – a diet high in soluble fibre can help manage it. It illustrates just how vitally important it is that Australians eat a healthily and how fundamental healthy gut bacteria are to our wellbeing,” she said.

An estimated 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, with 250,000 annual deaths attributed to the disease.

Australia has approximately 2.3 million people living with asthma and nearly half of these people are believed to be “failing to control their disease”.


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