A healthy diet and regular exercise can significantly reduce asthma symptoms and improve quality of life for people with the condition, research suggests.
Scientists in Italy compared the progress of asthma patients who were randomly assigned specific lifestyle-changing regimes or continued living as normal for a period of eight weeks.
At the end of the study those who took exercise classes three times a week and ate a healthy low-glycaemic index (GI) diet rich in protein, fruit and vegetables rated their asthma symptoms score 50% lower than patients in the non-intervention control group.
Participants who only altered their exercise level or diet, but not both, reported a 30% improvement in symptoms.
Dr Louise Toennesen, from Bispebjerg University Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark, said: “People with asthma sometimes find exercise challenging and this can lead to an overall deterioration in their fitness.
“Our study suggests that non-obese asthma patients can safely take part in well-planned, high-intensity exercise. It also shows that exercise combined with a healthy diet can help patients control their asthma symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life.
“These are important findings since we know that not all patients have good control over their symptoms and consequently can have a lower quality of life. We also know that many patients are interested in whether they can improve their asthma control with exercise and a healthy diet.
“Our research suggests that people with asthma should be encouraged to eat a healthy diet and to take part in physical activity.”
A low-GI diet is one that releases sugar slowly into the blood and helps maintain a well-balanced metabolism.
Results from the study, which involved a total of 125 participants, were presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Milan, Italy.
The research did not show a clear improvement in lung function, but found that the diet and exercise combination improved symptom control and quality of life.