Eating More Fish Might Mitigate Pollution's Effects On Asthma : Shots - Health News A research team tracked the diets and exposures to air pollution of kids inside Baltimore homes. Children with diets high in omega-3 fatty acids seemed less vulnerable to pollution's effect on asthma.

Eating Fish May Help City Kids With Asthma Breathe Better

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It's long been known that air pollution can influence the risk of asthma in children. Now there's emerging evidence diet can, too. NPR's Allison Aubrey reports on a new study from Johns Hopkins University that finds certain types of foods are linked to a decrease in asthma symptoms.

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: Maybe you've heard that expression that fish is brain food. Well, it turns out that fish might be good for the lungs, too. All those omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, they work in a fascinating way in our bodies. Emily Brigham is a pulmonologist at Johns Hopkins. She says as we break down these omega-3s molecules known as pro-resolving mediators are produced.

EMILY BRIGHAM: And what they do is that when there's an area of inflammation or when there's inflammation in the body, these molecules help to resolve that inflammation.

AUBREY: Given this effect, Brigham and her colleagues were curious. They studied a group of 135 kids in Baltimore with asthma. Many of them were exposed to high levels of indoor pollution, which can trigger or worsen symptoms. Now, during a six-month study, they found that higher consumption of omega-3s seemed to reduce the effects of air pollution on their symptoms.

BRIGHAM: Meaning that kids who were eating a higher level of omega-3 had fewer symptoms than kids that were eating a lower level of omega-3.

AUBREY: So omega-3s appear to be beneficial, but another group of fatty acids, omega-6s, seem to have the opposite effect. Omega-6s they're found in lots of processed foods that contain corn oil and other vegetable oils. And some of their byproducts are pro-inflammatory. Brigham says the results are preliminary, but they're not too surprising.

BRIGHAM: We know that asthma is a disease that's driven by inflammation and that that inflammation occurs primarily at the level of the lung.

AUBREY: So if diet can help reduce that inflammation, Brigham says it could be a good way to help kids prone to asthma maintain good health. Allison Aubrey, NPR News.

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