Monday, May 17, 2010

Eat veggies, knock out allergies

"LET your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food."

Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine” whom health care professionals swear to, plied such counsel ages back. And for a world wheezing up $18 billion yearly for relief against allergies, such princely sum can be better spent on nourishing food… the sort that takes out allergy symptoms and pleases both tongue and tummy.

A seven-year study of 460 children in Spain’s Menorca Island found the kids’ diet rich in fruit vegetables and fish spared them from allergy symptoms. Fruits vegetables include tomato, squash, zucchini, eggplant, green bean, cucumber, gourd, okra, ampalaya, and patola.

The 2007 findings bolster a previous study that pointed out a fish-rich diet in pregnancy can help to protect children from asthma and allergies.

"We believe that this is the first study that has assessed the impact of a child's diet on asthma and allergies and also taken into account the food their mother ate during pregnancy" claims lead author Dr. Leda Chatzi from the Department of Social Medicine at the University of Crete, Greece.

Cites Dr. Chatzi: "Because we studied the children from pregnancy to childhood, we were able to include a wide range of elements in our analysis, including maternal diet during pregnancy, breastfeeding, smoking, the mother's health history, parental education and social class."

Researchers kept tabs on the children’s progress at regular intervals from before they were born until they were six-and-a-half.

Children who consumed daily more than 40 grams of fruit vegetables were much less likely to suffer from childhood asthma, according to researchers.

Too, kids with a daily intake of 60 grams of fish suffered less childhood allergies, “echoing the protective effects they experienced when their mothers ate fish during pregnancy.”

The allergy buffering effects from fruit vegetables were not provided by other fruits and vegetables. Neither did other foodstuffs included in the study, such as dairy products, meat, poultry and bread.

Researchers made the mothers of 232 boys and 228 girls fill in “detailed questionnaires on their children's health, weight, diet and any breathing problems every year until their child was six-and-a-half.”

Researchers said “90 per cent of the children also underwent allergy testing -- skin prick tests were used to check their response to the six most common allergens, including grass pollen and cats.

“Below 9% of the children suffered from some degree of wheezing, including 6% with an allergy-related wheeze while 17 per cent reacted to at least one of the allergens in the skin prick test.

"The biological mechanisms that underlie the protective affect of these foods is not fully understood, but we believe that the fruit vegetables and fish reduce the inflammation associated with asthma and allergies.

"It provides parents with specific advice about the health promotion benefits of including fish and fruit vegetables as part of a balanced diet for both their children and the rest of the family," the researchers cited.