Diet of antioxidants and oils improves lung disorder, study shows

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A special diet formula rich in antioxidants and plant and fish oils seems to reduce the harmful effects of a serious respiratory problem.

Patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) who were given the special liquid formula via a feeding tube spent an average of five fewer days relying on a ventilator and five fewer days in the intensive care unit. Also, the same patients developed significantly fewer failures in other organs.

"ARDS is a complication of many other respiratory-related diseases which damage the lungs," said James Gadek, co-author of the study and a professor of internal medicine at Ohio State University. "The diet we gave patients reduced inflammation in the lungs and, just as important, had no apparent side effects."

ARDS is often a serious side effect of lung diseases or injuries such as pneumonia, or smoke or chemical inhalation. The lungs fill up with fluid, making it difficult for the patient to breathe.

The research appeared in a recent issue of the journal Critical Care Medicine. The study included 98 patients from the intensive care units of five teaching hospitals.

The researchers gave a diet of antioxidants and two fatty acids -- eicosapentaenoic acid (fish oil) and gamma-linolenic acid (oil from a borage plant) -- to 51 patients, and a placebo diet to 47 patients. Antioxidants included beta-carotene and the vitamins A and C.

Each patient received the mixture via a tube to the stomach for at least four to seven days. Initially, all patients breathed with the help of a respirator.

The researchers measured breathing difficulty and the volume of fluid in each patient's lungs four and seven days after starting the diet. They also looked at the development of failure in other organs.

The researchers found a decrease in the rate of failure of other organs in patients given the diet. Only 8 percent of these patients developed failure in one or more organs during the

Contact: James Gadek
Ohio State University

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