People with asthma may be well-advised to avoid heavy, high-fat meals, according to new research. Individuals with asthma who consumed a high-fat meal showed increased airway inflammation just hours after the binge, according to Australian researchers who conducted the study. The high fat meal also appeared to inhibit the response to the asthma reliever medication Ventolin (albuterol).
"Subjects who had consumed the high-fat meal had an increase in airway neutrophils and TLR4 mRNA gene expression from sputum cells, that didn't occur following the low fat meal," said Dr. Lisa Wood, Ph.D., research fellow of the University of Newcastle. "The high fat meal impaired the asthmatic response to albuterol. In subjects who had consumed a high fat meal, the post-albuterol improvement in lung function at three and four hours was suppressed."
The research will be presented at the ATS 2010 International Conference in New Orleans.
Asthma prevalence has increased dramatically in westernized countries in recent decades, suggesting that environmental factors such as dietary intake may play a role in the onset and development of the disease. Westernized diets are known to be relatively higher in fat than more traditional diets.
High dietary fat intake has previously been shown to activate the immune response, leading to an increase in blood markers of inflammation. However, the effect of a high fat meal on airway inflammation, which contributes to asthma, had not been investigated.
Researchers recruited 40 asthmatic subjects who were randomized to receive either a high-fat, high-calorie "food challenge", consisting of fast food burgers and hash browns containing about 1,000 calories, 52 percent of which were from fat; or a low-fat, low-calorie meal consisting of reduced fat yogurt, containing about 200 calories, and 13 percent fat.
Sputum samples were collected before the meal and four hours afterward, and analyzed for inflammatory markers.