If you have asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, or chronic bronchitis, you're not alone. Chronic lung disease is becoming a huge problem in this country. And you don't have to smoke to be at risk. Fortunately, supplements can help considerably with lung problems. And new research suggests one nutrient in particular can help.
In this study, researchers wanted to see if particular omega-3 fatty acids would improve the ventilation in chronic lung-disease patients. In past research, studies have found that some fats could contribute to lung disease and other fats could help. And this research confirmed both of these.
The researchers conducting this study collected data from 593 adults in Germany. After studying the data, they were able to confirm that the fatty acid pamitoleic acid (which comes from dietary saturated fat) had a negative association for lung function.
While the pamitoleic acid contributed to lung disease, one particular fatty acid — DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) — had the opposite effect. They found that DHA has a positive effect on lung hyper-reactivity. I've talked about DHA a lot in the past. It's one of the main components of fish oil. While it's not a new nutrient, few knew just how effective DHA was at helping lung disease.
DHA is particularly effective when you're deficient. A study back in 1999 found that smoking greatly depletes your body's levels of DHA. That's one reason why smokers have so many lung problems. Obviously, the direct contact with so much smoke is a huge problem. But depleting the DHA robs your lungs of the nutrition it needs to fight off the constant barrage of smoke. It's a double whammy to your lungs.
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You may not smoke, but we're finding that other lifestyle and environmental factors can deplete your DHA as well. Since your lungs are dependent on DHA, this makes you susceptible to lung disease.
Other than smoking, what can deplete your DHA? The biggest problem is eating a diet that doesn't contain DHA. Vegans are most at risk. But junk-food eaters have a high risk as well. Pollution, mold, and other environmental contaminants can deplete your DHA levels as well.
So if you have any lung problems, it's vital you take DHA on a daily basis. If you're a vegetarian and don't want to take fish oil, there are DHA products on the market from sea algae. You can find these online.
If you're not a vegetarian, you can take fish oil like that contained in Complete Daily Oils. If you don't have lung disease, this will give you enough DHA to keep your lungs healthy. But if you do have lung disease, you may need to add extra DHA to your supplement regimen. Your doctor can help determine how much you should take.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.
“Association of fatty acids in serum phospholipids with lung function and bronchial hyperresponsiveness in adults,” Kompauer I, Demmelmair H, et al, Eur J Epidemiol, 2008; 23(3): 175-90.