Omega-3 Fatty Acids Can Improve Lung Function

A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish, canola oil, and walnuts, can have anti-inflammatory effects and improve the exercise capacity for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). For two years, Japanese researchers followed 32 patients with COPD on an omega-3 fatty acid-rich diet (treatment group) and 32 patients with COPD on a non-omega-3 fatty acid-rich diet (nontreatment group). Every three months, dyspnea scores, levels of inflammatory mediators, and exercise capacity were recorded. Overall, results showed that dyspnea scores and exercise capacity significantly improved and inflammatory mediators significantly decreased for patients in the treatment group, while there was no significant change in the nontreatment group. Researchers suggest that nutritional support with an omega-3 fatty acid-rich diet is a safe and practical method for treating COPD. The study appears in the December issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.

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