Australian-Greek clinical study says fish which are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids can reduce asthma symptoms in children
By Fabian Dawson
A clinical trial led by La Trobe University in Australia has shown eating fish such as salmon and trout, both farmed and wild, can reduce asthma symptoms in children.
The international study found children with asthma who followed a healthy Mediterranean diet enriched with fatty fish had improved lung function after six months.
Lead researcher Maria Papamichael from La Trobe said the findings added to a growing body of evidence that a healthy diet could be a potential therapy for childhood asthma.
In an email to SeaWestNews, Papamichael said both farmed and wild caught fish was used in the study.
“Fatty fish consumed by the intervention group included sardines, trout, salmon, mackerel and anchovies, farmed or wild-caught, frozen and fresh,” she said.
The US-based Seafood Nutrition Partnership maintains that all seafood, whether raised sustainably or caught responsibly can significantly improve overall health.
“Both farmed and wild salmon have similar amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids which improves brain function and overall health according to the USDA (US Department of Agriculture),” said Linda Cornish, president of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, which builds awareness of the health and nutritional benefits of seafood in the U.S.
“When designing the clinical trial, we did examine the omega 3 fatty acid content of fish, that is why we chose the above types of fish which are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA), more than in lean fish,” said Papamichael.
“We already know that a diet high in fat, sugar and salt can influence the development and progression of asthma in children and now we have evidence that it’s also possible to manage asthma symptoms through healthy eating,” Papamichael said.
“Fatty fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties. Our study shows eating fish just twice a week can significantly decrease lung inflammation in children with asthma.”
Co-researcher and Head of La Trobe’s School of Allied Health, Professor Catherine Itsiopoulos, said the results were promising.
“Following a traditional Mediterranean diet that is high in plant-based foods and oily fish could be an easy, safe and effective way to reduce asthma symptoms in children,” Professor Itsiopoulos said.
Associate Professor Bircan Erbas, from La Trobe’s School of Psychology and Public Health, is an allergic respiratory disease epidemiologist, who co-supervised the trial.
“Asthma is the most common respiratory disease in young people and one of the leading reasons for hospitalisations and trips to emergency for children,” Associate Professor Erbas said.
“Unfortunately, the rate of asthma worldwide remains high. It is imperative that we identify new therapies that we can use alongside conventional asthma medications.”
The clinical trial involved 64 children from Athens in Greece, aged 5 to 12 who had mild asthma. Researchers from Australia and Greece divided the children into two groups and instructed around half to eat two meals of cooked fatty fish (of at least 150 grams) as part of the Greek Mediterranean diet every week for six months. The remaining children followed their normal diet.
At the end of the trial, they found the group who ate fish had reduced their bronchial inflammation by 14 units. Above 10 units is significant under international guidelines.