Recent research has linked the rise of fussy fruit and vegetable eaters in Western society to the population’s increased development of allergic asthma over the past 50 years.

A study completed by the Swiss National Science Foundation and published in this month’s edition of Nature Medicine, has found a correlation between the modern Western person’s diet, which has gradually decreased in fibre rich fruit and vegetables and an increased susceptibility to allergies in the lungs.

“With one in ten Australians living with asthma, this is a promising breakthrough that could improve the lives of millions of people through increased consumption of high-fibre vegetables,” said AUSVEG Spokesperson, Cameron Brown.

AUSVEG is the National Peak Industry Body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.

Results were found in experiments which altered the diets of mice. Researchers concluded that a lack of fermentable fibres in the human diet can pave the way for allergic inflammatory reactions in the lungs. Vegetable fibre fermentation, caused by gut bacteria, creates essential fatty acids that enter the blood stream and influence the immune response in the lungs.

“Latest statistics show that the Australian public spends around $655 million on asthma each year, which is around one per cent of all health expenditure on diseases. If increasing vegetable intake will reduce this figure, and more importantly save lives, then health experts should get behind this message and encourage the consumption of more fruit and vegetables’”, said Mr Brown.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates 235 million people in the world are living with asthma right now, with the most recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics placing Australia second, in a ranking by country, of the prevalence of adult’s asthma symptoms in the world.

Asthma is characterised by the inflammation of air passages which causes temporary narrowing of the airways between the mouth and lungs. Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing and tightness in the chest.

“This study is further evidence that a balanced diet containing plenty of vegetables will lead to fortified, healthy immune system”, said Mr Brown.

Past studies have concluded that vegetables high in fibre may help prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and some cancers, and can also improve digestive health.


MEDIA CONTACT: Cameron Brown, Spokesperson
Phone: (03) 9882 0277  Mobile: 0411 697 733  E-mail: