A French study discovered that consuming cured meats in excessive amounts can worsen the asthma symptoms.
Cured meat are processed and consist of different combinations of salt, nitrates, nitrites, and sugar. Bacon, ham, prosciutto, corned beef, pepperoni, and pastrami are typical examples of processed meat.
Dr. Zhen Li, the author of the study said that cured meat is one of the most common foods in industrialized societies and it has been regarded as one of the factors for developing many chronic diseases. One of them is lung cancer and COPD, but the link with asthma is still not clear.
The study involved 971 adult participants form five French cities. They were supposed to answer questions related to diet, weight, and asthma symptoms. The data were between 2003 and 2007.
The participants were eating 2.5 portions of cured meats per week. Over 40% of the participants declared that they noticed some of the asthma symptoms and around half of them said that they had never smoked. Each participant had to pay attention of what type of changes they notice, especially if they are experiencing breathing difficulties, chest pressure, and shortness of breath. They were also supposed to score an asthma symptom starting from zero to five.
Further analysis were completed between 2011 and 2013, which showed that about half of the participants didn’t have any changes in their asthma scores. One-fourth felt that their symptoms had improved, but around 20% said that their condition had gotten worse.
Other factors such as smoking, physical activity, age, diet, and education were also taken into consideration. The researchers discovered that participants who ate four or more portions of cured meat per week, were 76% more prone to feel worsening of their condition, as opposed to those people who ate the least of this meat, which was less than one full serving per week. About 35% of the participants had excess pounds and about 10% were obese. These numbers probably show the link, the authors concluded.
Li stated that if they gather their current findings and the previous ones, patients diagnosed with asthma might have benefits if they follow a multiple-interventional program. He adds that apart from safe medication, weight control, healthy diet, and reducing the consumption of cured meat, can help them to relieve their asthma symptoms.
Dr. Sunit Jariwala, director of allergy and immunology research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, appreciates the effort that these researchers had put in this study, but he thinks that it cannot prove cause-and effect.
He considers obesity as one dangerous factor for worsening asthma symptoms, because obesity is associated with systemic inflammation. Obesity can also lead to sleep apnea.
Jariwala recommends following a diet which consists of healthy, fresh and unprocessed foods. To be more precise, you should avoid foods which are high in salt, sugar, and saturated fats.