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Eating tomatoes may repair lung damage in ex-smokers

eating tomatoes

If you just quit smoking but are worried about the damage that’s already been done, a new study might give you some relief. According to the study, diets rich in tomatoes and fresh fruit, especially apple, may help repair smoking-related lung damage, suggesting some components in these diets might mend harm caused by smoking.

Eating tomatoes have been associated with many health benefits. Past research have shown that eating tomatoes regularly may cut skin cancer risk in half and enhance the immune system.

eating tomatoes

The researchers discovered that participants who on average consumed more than 2 tomatoes or over 3 portions of fresh fruit each day experienced a slower lung function decline compared to the participants who consumed less than 1 tomato or less than a portion of fruit each day.

Read more Tomato Extracts Can Prevent And Treat Stomach Cancer, New Study Suggests

They also found that among the participants (including those who had never smoked or had ceased), adults who consumed the highest amount of tomato experienced the slowest deterioration in lung function. This study provides vital proof of diet’s effect on lung function.

Findings of the study, conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School, was printed in the European Respiratory Journal.

eating tomatoes

Ex-smokers and healthcare professionals have always been interested in learning more about lung health after quitting smoking.

Quitting smoking dramatically decreases the risk of developing a number of diseases, including lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and early death.

When you stop smoking, your lungs begin to heal immediately. Although the healing process starts immediately, improvement of your lung health can take many years. Moreover, stopping smoking alone does not completely eliminate the risk of having a smoking-related lung disease.

eating tomatoes

Your lungs fully mature when you’re between 20 and 25 years of age. After you pass 35, your lung functions start to decline, gradually making it hard to breathe. This happens because the diaphragm weakens, which in turn reduces your ability to breathe in and out; loss of elasticity occurs in the muscles that keep open the airways; shape of the alveoli becomes deformed; and the region of your brain that controls breathing sends feeble signals to the lungs.

According to the CDC, there are around 36.5 million cigarette smokers in the United States. While every year, approximately 55.4% of all adult smokers try to quit smoking, the practice claims the lives of 480,000 people in the country each year.

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For this study, the researchers recruited more than 650 people from the United Kingdom, Germany and Norway. Their diet and lung function were evaluated in 2002 and the same procedure was repeated 10 years later on the same individuals. Participants completed questionnaires on their diets and nutritional intake. Researcher conducted spirometry test on the adults to measure the capacity of their lungs to absorb oxygen.

eating tomatoes

The researchers controlled for factors like sex, age, height, body mass index (BMI), physical activity, socio-economic status, and total energy intake to confirm that the results were not misrepresented.

Eating tomatoes dramatically slowed lung function decline

Compared with the participants who consumed more than 3 portions of fruit or more than 2 tomatoes had slower decline in their lung function compared to those who ate less than 1 serving of fruit or 1 tomato each day.

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eating tomatoes

Besides eating tomatoes, researchers wanted to know more about their intake of other dietary and processed fruits and vegetables sources, for example tomato sauce. However, the beneficial effect was only obvious among the participants who consumed fresh fruits and vegetables. This suggest that specific components in fresh tomatoes and apples may be responsible for restoring the lung damage caused by smoking.

Moreover, researchers observed a slower decline in lung function in all the participants who consumed a diet rich in tomatoes, including those who had never smoked.

Study author Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School says this study suggests that lung damage in individuals who have quit smoking might be repaired by the help of diet. It also implies that a diet rich in fresh fruits can slow the natural aging process of lungs in people who have never even smoked, she adds.

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Salahuddin Ahmed is a freelance medical writer and blogger, who has been writing about medicine and health for more than a decade. A former New York transplant, he now lives in his native Dhaka. He received a Bachelor's degree from the University of Louisiana and a diploma on eTechnology from NIIT, Dhaka. A voracious eater, Salahuddin only dines at restaurants that offer free refills on rice.

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