2 Tasty Red Fruits May Improve Lung Function
Tomatoes are a fruit, not a vegetable like everyone thinks. So when you read this study showing that two fruits (tomatoes and apples) may improve lung function, I don’t want you getting confused about a tomato’s home in the world of foods.
And yes, I know that apples come in green too. ;)
Now that this little bit of confusion has been dealt with, I’d like to tell you about a unique way these two fruits might help improve the function of a person’s lungs.
But not just any person…
A person whose lungs have been damaged by the toxic smoke produced by cigarettes.
Now for some of you reading this, you might not think this is anything you need to worry about.
But for me, a doctor practicing medicine in the city of tobacco (Winston-Salem, NC is the birthplace of big tobacco), this is some pretty exciting news.
Recent studies estimate that as many as 36.5 million people smoke cigarettes. And as many as 500,000 smokers die every year from complications related to smoking.
Which is why as many as 55% of all adult smokers try to quit the deadly habit.
But for those who don’t...or for those who have been smoking for years...one of the biggest fears is of reduced pulmonary function that sets in after years of smoking.
However, not all hope is lost for those who’re worried about their lungs being damaged. At least not based on some preliminary research coming from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD, where they found that tomatoes may “restore lung function in ex-smokers and slow lung function decline in all adults.”
So what gives?
What’s so special about tomatoes and how could they help improve your lungs?
Well, for years we’ve known that a diet rich in fruits and veggies promotes superior lung function. Research published by the British Journal of Medicine found that those who ate a diet rich in fruits and veggies had a 4-8% lower risk of developing COPD
In their new study, the researchers at Johns Hopkins analyzed people who ate less than a serving of fruit or tomatoes per day versus those who ate more than three servings of fruit or two tomatoes daily.
They found those who ate less fruit and less tomatoes were more likely to experience impaired lung function. (The scientists focused mainly on apples and tomatoes).
“This finding suggests that there may be particular components in fresh tomatoes and apples that help to repair the lung damage that results from smoking.
What is more, a slower deterioration in lung function was observed in all adults in the study who ate a tomato-rich diet — including those who had never smoked.
‘This study,’ says lead study author Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, who works as an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of International Health, ‘shows that diet might help repair lung damage in people who have stopped smoking. It also suggests that a diet rich in fruits can slow down the lung's natural aging process even if you have never smoked.’
’The findings,’ she adds, ‘support the need for dietary recommendations, especially for people at risk of developing respiratory diseases such as COPD.’
Ultimately, these findings help support the therapeutic value of healthy foods in helping rehabilitate people with potential health problems.
In fact, the power of tomatoes and apples at helping improve lung function was so pronounced that “former smokers who consumed a tomato- and fruit-rich diet had around 80 milliliter slower decline in lung function over 10 years.”
The only problem is we don’t know exactly what compounds are helping improve lung function.
We just know there’s something in these foods that restores a person’s ability to breathe.
One note about this study.
The researchers concluded that you need to get whole fruits and vegetables in your diet to see these positive results. So, no, apple sauce and tomato sauce won’t cut it, sorry.