Meaty and Salty Diet Linked to Respiratory Symptoms

Breathtaking view: Too much meat
may result in respiratory symptoms

Researchers found that individuals whose diets are rich in meat, refined starches and sodium are 1.43 times more likely to report new onset of persistent coughs with phlegm than those who consume a diet high in fruit and soy.

The study analysed data to assess the usual dietary intake of 52,325 participants. Although the study was conducted within a Singaporean population, the dietary patterns are reflective of U.S. eating patterns. The study population consisted of men and women of Chinese ethnicity ranging in ages from 45 to 74 at enrolment.

"We were able to identify two distinct food patterns in our population," said National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) researcher Stephanie London, M.D., lead investigator on the study. "what we refer to as the 'meat-dim sum pattern' and the 'vegetable-fruit-soy pattern.'"

The meat-dim sum pattern contained 31 food items, predominantly pork, chicken, fish, noodle dishes, and preserved foods, as well as eleven snack items. The vegetable-fruit-soy pattern contained 32 foods, including 23 vegetables, four fruit items and five soyfood items.

The meat dim sum pattern was positively associated with new onset cough with phlegm after adjusting for age, gender, smoking, education and other factors. No individual food item could account for the 1.4 fold increase in risk of cough with phlegm from this dietary pattern. "It is difficult to tease out what is accounting for the increases in respiratory symptoms related to the meat-dim-sum diet, and thus using the patterns is useful" said Dr. London.

"These data show us the important contribution that diet can have on the development of diseases, such as COPD. Choosing foods with less saturated fat, lower in refined starches and sodium content is probably a good idea," said London.; Source: NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences