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A surprising fact about food is that it may affect your breathing. The right mix of nutrients in your diet can help you breathe easier, as food fuels everything your body does. No one food can supply every nutrient you need—a healthy diet includes many nutrition-rich foods.

This study aimed to examine the prospective association between fish consumption and COPD in a large group of Chinese people.

A validation-based food frequency questionnaire was used to assess fish consumption frequency at baseline for the China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB), which recruited over 0.5 million participants from ten geographically diverse regions across China between 2004 and 2008. 

Their analysis included 169,188 men and 252,238 women with no prior chronic diseases.

According to the Global Burden of Disease report, the third most common cause of death worldwide in 2010 was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

The predominant risk factor for COPD in the developed world is cigarette smoking. However, nearly a third of COPD patients have never smoked, suggesting that other factors may play a role.

Research conducted in the US and Europe has shown that eating fish, fruit, and dairy products can improve lung function in patients with COPD. 

According to the study presented at the ATS 2014 International Conference, grapefruit, bananas, fish, and cheese can improve lung function in COPD patients within 24 hours of eating them.

Researchers found that recently, people who reported eating fish, grapefruit, bananas, or cheese showed improved lung function, fewer emphysema cases, six-minute walks, and SGRQ scores.

“Diet is a potentially modifiable risk factor in the development and progression of many diseases, and there is evidence that diet plays a role in both the development and clinical features of COPD,” 

 – Corinne Hanson, PhD. 

It is known that anchovies are packed with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats and other nutrients that promote lung health, such as selenium, calcium, and iron. 

Omega-3-rich fish like anchovies may be particularly beneficial for people with chronic inflammatory lung diseases like COPD. Researchers found that eating more omega-3 fats reduced COPD symptoms and improved lung function in 2020.

Moreover, omega-3-rich diets may reduce asthma symptoms.

Results of the study

5542 incident COPD cases were reported during a median follow-up of 11.1 years. Fish consumption was associated with COPD risk among women, with a 17% reduction in risk for participants who consumed fish four days/week compared with those who did not (HR 0.83; 95% confidence interval 0.70, 0.99; p for trend = 0.017). 

However, they did not observe such a dose-response relationship among men (HR 0.89; 95% confidence interval 0.76, 1.05; p for trend = 0.373).

Women and men who consumed fish at least four times a week and had a healthy lifestyle had a 38% and 48% lower COPD risk, respectively. Compared with those who consumed fish only twice a week and had an unhealthy lifestyle.

Fish consumption was associated with lower COPD risk among Chinese women but not men. 

Such associations were independent of lifestyle factors. This suggests that adequate fish consumption and an overall healthy lifestyle may help lower the risk of COPD.

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