Eating apples and tomatoes daily may help repair lung damage in ex-smokers, finds study

But, they have to be fresh

Sarah Young
Friday 22 December 2017 16:16 GMT
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Eating a diet rich in tomatoes and apples could help repair lung damage in ex-smokers, new research finds.

The study revealed that adults who ate two tomatoes and more than three portions of apples a day showed a slower decline in lung function than those who ate less than one of each.

However, the reparative effects only stem from fresh varieties, meaning canned or processed alternatives do not work.

The study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, assessed the diet and lung function of more than 650 adults in 2002, and then repeated the same tests on the same group of participants 10 years later.

The participants, who were from Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom, also completed questionnaires about their diet and overall nutritional intake, as well as undergoing spirometry – a procedure that measures the capacity of lungs to take in oxygen.

Factors such as age, height, sex, body mass index, socio-economic status, physical activity, and total energy intake were also taken into consideration.

Interestingly, the findings, which appear in the December issue of the European Respiratory Journal, found that the connection between diet and lung function was even more evident among former smokers.

Here, it revealed that ex-smokers who ate a diet high in tomatoes and fruits, especially apples, had slower decline over the 10-year period, suggesting that nutrients found in these foods help to repair damage caused by smoking.

“Lung function starts to decline at around age 30 at variable speed depending on the general and specific health of individuals,” Dr Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, lead author says.

“Our study suggests that eating more fruits on a regular basis can help attenuate the decline as people age, and might even help repair damage caused by smoking.

“Diet could become one way of combating rising diagnosis of COPD around the world.“

An umbrella term for diseases that include emphysema and acute bronchitis, the results offer a potential way for smokers to avoid developing the incurable chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) – a condition that around 1.2 million Britons are currently living with.

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