Low Calorie Diets – A Way to Fight Asthma?

Given America’s obesity crisis, it makes sense as to way many people adapt low-calorie diets in an attempt to lose weight. To be sure, this would make sense, as the average American consumes over 3,600 calories per day. But suppose avoiding calories was also good for your lungs? 

Different Diets, Different Results 

A Johns Hopkins report from early 2019 found that mice placed on a low-calorie diet were effectively shielded from asthmatic symptoms. For this study, the researchers separated laboratory mice into four distinct groups, each with its own diet plan:

  • A diet consisting of low-calorie crunchy food pellets
  • A diet with an elevated amount of fat and calories 
  • Another calorie-dense diet with an increased amount of sugar
  • A diet high in calories, sugar and trans fats

It should also be noted that some mice were assigned calorie-dense diets but with a limited total caloric intake. As a result, these subjects consumed the same amount of calories as rodents given low-calorie food. 

After eight weeks, the authors compared mice placed on unrestricted high-calorie diets against rodents in the other three dietary groupings. Compared to subjects given low-calorie or restricted calorie-dense diets, the high-calorie group gained at least seven more grams over the preceding eight-week period. 

A Tight Squeeze 

The next step was to examine the mice’s lung capabilities. To do this, the researchers administered methacholine to the mice, causing their airways to subsequently tighten. The authors found that mice consuming an unrestricted amount of high-calorie fare responded worse to the methacholine than the other groups. Given this outcome, the authors concluded that both obesity and asthma were greater threats to mice that freely consumed calorie-rich items. 
Senior study author Vsevolod Polotsky stated that his team’s work “shows that obesity leads to inflammation-associated asthma symptoms regardless of the makeup of the diet, and that restricting calories by any means may prevent or treat asthma by reducing inflammation.”  The online journal Scientific Reports published the study in January 2019.

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