High fibre diet may help kids with asthma

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015, 12.4% of boys under 15 suffer with asthma and 9.6% of girls.  This number has increased almost 10% since 2008.  A total of 2.5 million Australians suffer with asthma.  

Luckily, according to a new study from University of Newcastle, there is hope in sight.  Professor Lisa Wood and her researchers found that increasing the intake of dietary fibre decreases inflammation of the airways, improving lung function and relieving symptoms.

SBS news reported Prof Wood explaining how: "Soluble fibre doesn't get digested until it reaches the large intestine and then the bacteria that are present in the large intestine break down the fibre to produce metabolites called short-chain fatty acids and they can go back into the bloodstream and they affect immune cells which control inflammation". Now, this may be news to some, but it seems only to confirm what we already now:  That immune function and the inflammatory process have a lot to do with the health of our gut.  

It is often recommended that children be given a quality pro-biotic supplement to help establish a healthy microbiome.  This study emphasizes the importance of the pre-biotics; the food the gut bacteria like to eat.  Soluble fibre is a pre-biotic.  Pre-biotics are basically plant material - which too many children try to avoid at all cost. 

According to ABS 2016, less than 1% of children consume the recommended amount of daily vegetables and legumes!!!!  They do better with fruit: 78% of 2-3 year olds enjoy the recommended 1 piece of fruit per day, 59% of the 4-8 year olds (1.5 servings) and 39% of the older kids (2 servings).  So it is unlikely that these children eat enough fibre to keep their gut flora happy.  The Victorian website Better Health advises that kids ages 4-8 have 18g of fibre per day, girls aged 9 to 13 need 20g and 14 to 18 year olds need 22g. Boys aged 9 to 13, and 14 to 18 years, need 24g and 28g per day respectively.

Getting this amount of fibre is not difficult if you eat your greens:  An apple contains 3g of fibre, an orange 3.5g and a banana 2.5g.  A handful of nuts give you 4.5g of fibre and 100g of broccoli 4g.  And if you are not averse to grains ½ cup of muesli is 6.5g of fibre and a slice of whole meal bread 2g.