Fruit and veg diet makes you breathe more easily

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A diet rich in fruit and vegetables can improve the lungs and the ability to breathe properly, shows a study of more than 3,000 people. Scientists say there is a much stronger lung function, even making allowances for alcohol and tobacco consumption.

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables can improve the lungs and the ability to breathe properly, shows a study of more than 3,000 people. Scientists say there is a much stronger lung function, even making allowances for alcohol and tobacco consumption.

Although it is well known that healthy eating can maintain a healthy heart, this is the first evidence about maintaining good lungs. The research-ers believe the above-average intake of vitamins E and C, and beta-carotene, could be responsible. They also found that eating bread helped.

"Surprisingly, eating bread was positively associated with good lung function which could be because of the anti-oxidant properties of wholegrains, including vitamin E content," said Dr Cora Tabak, from the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment in The Netherlands, and coauthor of the study.

"The findings showed that above-average intake of both fruit and vegetables was positively associated with lung function," Dr Tabak said.

The study of 3,000 middle-aged men from Finland, the Netherlands and Italy was published in the medical journal Thorax . The men, aged 40 to 59, gave details of their diets and took lung function tests. Information on the age, height weight, smoking and workrelated physical activity was also collected. They were defined as bedridden, sedentary, moderately active or very active. In all three countries smoking reduced lung function significantly.

But those who ate a lot of fruit and vegetables, regardless of how active they were or how much alcohol they drank, still had a much higher lung capacity. The findings showed dietary differences, but eating fish, potatoes, margarines or oils, foods that do contain vitamins C and E, were not found to improve lung function. The joint effect of fruit and vegetables resulted in more consistent and stronger relationship with good lungs, the researchers said.

"We have known for some time that eating fruit and vegetables can help maintain a healthy heart. The evidence is now growing that a good diet, rich in anti-oxidants, can have a positive effect on our lungs too," said Dr John Britton, of the British Thoracic Society. "Further research is needed to uncover the extent to which diet can keep our lungs healthy."

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