An Apple a Day for Asthma

Growing up, asthma affected my life in the form of the family pet. Instead of getting an adorable kitten or lovable puppy, my parents and my brother were all asthmatics and unable to have a house full of fur. The good news is we got a bird instead and he is still entertaining us eighteen years later and we have never looked back with regrets. However, living with asthma isn’t just about a debate over puppies and kittens, but how to adapt to an affliction which restricts a person’s breathing and their quality of life. Budding research along with previously published studies are trying to show that consumption of apples may help lower the risk of asthma symptoms in both adults and children.
The London National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College investigated 2,640 children ages 5 to 10 monitoring their fruit intake and recording the data. Of the children who drank apple juice from concentrate at least one time per day, they lowered their risk of wheezing due to asthma by 47 percent over those children who only drank apple juice once a month or less.

Based on previous studies which showed that lung function was improved by higher fruit intake, apple juice and apples were studied on children following the results made by Imperial College with adults. In the prior study using adults, Dr. Seif O. Shaheen found that eating more apples had a direct correlation to the lowered risk of reactionary asthmatic symptoms, “It would be wrong to say that our data suggest that drinking apple juice reduces the risk of asthma,” Dr. Shaheen continues in an interview, “We`ve only shown an association, and we`ve yet to provide definitive evidence that the link is causal.”

While eating apples versus apple juice drinking had no immediate effect on children’s lung functions, researchers say that there is a possibility of juice having a higher concentration of antioxidants than the whole fruit. The London study also found that children who ate bananas daily were also at a lower risk for asthma symptoms over those who ate bananas monthly. Although a bunch of studies have proven positive results of using the antioxidants in fruit, mainly apples, to curb the aftereffects of an asthma attack, the researchers say there are still more studies to be conducted for further proof.

Published in the European Respiratory Journal, this study was partially conducted by the parents by having them keep a record of their child’s fruit intake alongside their symptom kind and frequency. Wheezing, characterized by a continuous whistling from the lungs alerting the body that the airflow of the respiratory tract is obstructed—is the most common indicator of asthma that can, but not always, lead to the condition.

Lead researcher of the children’s study, Dr. Peter Burney thinks apples may be helpful in keeping airways clear because of the chemicals and acids inside the fruit that prevent problem inflammation which leads to wheezing as well as asthma. Dr. Burney wasn’t sure of the exact connection between apples and the lowered rate of asthma symptoms but claims that more specific research needs to be done with fruit intake in the future, “Further studies are needed to confirm the protective effects of apple juice from concentrate and bananas.”

Past research from London has also suggested that pregnant women were trying to protect their children while still inside the womb from asthma later in life by eating a lot of apples. Dr. Shaheen explained that the antioxidants in fruit counteract the damaging oxidative stress from air pollution and researchers and doctors alike think it’s a good idea to prescribe a diet rich in antioxidants, such as fruits like bananas and apples, on a regular basis to enjoy general health. Even though as an adult, I still don’t have a puppy or a kitten, at least the rest of my asthmatic family didn’t have to suffer but if we had known about this new research maybe we could have had our own fur ball to love, if only our backyard had room for an apple tree.

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