Despite the fact that quitting smoking is the best way of avoiding or reducing the risk of developing diseases like lung cancer, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the researchers found that dietary alterations may also play an important role.
Data from a study led by associate professor Robert Young at the University of Auckland School of Medicine, recently published in the European Respiratory Review journal, suggests that a high fiber diet can help decrease inflammations in smokers lungs. Lung inflammation is responsible for the cause of progressive damage, and can even result in the development of more severe diseases, reducing the life of a smoker between 15 and 20 years.
“This helps confirm our conclusions from earlier observations indicating diet has important effects on lung health,” explained Prof. Robert Young in a news release. “ This study supports the key hypothesis that the beneficial effects of a high fibre diet come largely through increased absorption of naturally-occurring anti-inflammatory chemicals (called small chain fatty acids) produced by “protective” gut bacteria.” “These protective bacteria flourish in the gut of people consuming a high fibre diet, but diminish in those whose diets are low in fibre and high in refined foods, where “harmful” gut bacteria predominate,” he added. “Through better engagement of smokers, screening for early lung damage and lifestyle interventions such as better diet and quitting smoking, much of the burden from smoking on the healthcare system could be reduced.”
The research team has been working in collaboration with investigators across the globe, in order to increase knowledge on the correlation between fiber and lung health, as well as to better determine in which ways and extent is a high fibre diet able to reduce the damages in the lungs of smokers.
The conclusions from this study corroborate previous data published earlier this year in Nature Medicine, which also revealed a significant decrease in inflammation in the lungs of mice being fed on a high fibre diet.