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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Mediterranean diet fights childhood allergy
Article Type: Food facts From: Nutrition & Food Science, Volume 38, Issue 4.
With the increase of incidence of allergy and asthma in children, there is good news from Greece. Researchers from the University of Crete have found that pregnant women who eat a diet rich in whole grains, fruit, vegetables, fish and olive oil in other words, the classic Mediterranean diet could be protecting their unborn babies from conditions such as wheezing and skin allergies.
The scientists, whose report has been published in the medical journal Thorax, followed a group of 468 mothers living on the Island of Menorca. The children of the women who stuck to a high-quality Mediterranean diet which has long been recognised as beneficial for heart health while they were pregnant up to 50 per cent less likely to suffer from asthma and allergies at the age of six and a half.
The foods included in the Mediterranean diet that offered the most protective effect were vegetables (eaten more than eight times a week), fish (more than two to three times a week) and beans (more than once a week). However, eating red meat more than three to four times a week raised the risk of persistent and atopic wheeze in the children.
Say the researchers: “Allergen specific responses are already evident at birth and allergic disease is often manifest within the first month of life suggesting that the processes that lead to allergic diseases can be initiated very early in immune development”.
Omega fats and health
Pregnant women in the UK are advised to eat at least two servings of fish a week, one of which should be oily. Pregnant or not, however, you can make sure you are getting enough of the beneficial nutrients found in fish namely the omega-3 essential fatty acids by taking a supplement.