Diet and asthma: an update

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Our objective was to provide an overview and discussion of recent experimental studies, epidemiologic studies, and clinical trials of diet and asthma. We focus on dietary sources and vitamins with antioxidant properties [vitamins (A, C, and E), folate, and omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 and n-6 PUFAs)].

Recent findings

Current evidence does not support the use of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, or PUFAs for the prevention or treatment of asthma or allergies. Current guidelines for prenatal use of folate to prevent neural tube defects should be followed, as there is no evidence of major effects of this practice on asthma or allergies. Consumption of a balanced diet that is rich in sources of antioxidants (e.g. fruits and vegetables) may be beneficial in the primary prevention of asthma.

Summary

None of the vitamins or nutrients examined is consistently associated with asthma or allergies. In some cases, further studies of the effects of a vitamin or nutrient on specific asthma phenotypes (e.g. vitamin C to prevent viral-induced exacerbations) are warranted. Clinical trials of ‘whole diet’ interventions to prevent asthma are advisable on the basis of existing evidence.

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