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High-Carbohydrate Diet Triggers Asthma and Allergic Lung Disease

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It is well known that genes and environmental factors such as air pollutants, bacteria and also diet can influence the development of allergies or asthma. Researchers at Helmholtz Munich have now examined the role of food in more detail. Their finding: an increased consumption of digestible carbohydrates is associated with the frequency of asthma and lung allergic inflammation.

In an interdisciplinary team, researchers from several institutes of Helmholtz Munich in cooperation with other research institutions used epidemiological data from two German birth cohorts to decipher links between increased consumption of digestible carbohydrates and the prevalence of asthma and to disentangle effects due to carbohydrates from those due to fat consumption. The analysis was based on data from subjects aged 15 years. To investigate underlying molecular mechanisms, allergic endpoints of high-carbohydrate diet-fed mice were compared to those of high-fat diet-fed mice using models of allergic lung disease.

Immune System on Alert

In the human cohort, the researchers observed that sucrose consumption increases asthma frequency primarily in male participants, while starch is more associated with asthma in female participants.

Closer examination of the mechanisms in mouse models revealed that feeding a high-carbohydrate diet during the development of allergic lung inflammation is associated with increased oxidative stress in the lungs and a diminished systemic antioxidant capacity compared to high-fat diet feeding. The consequence of high-carbohydrate diet feeding is the increased risk of developing asthma.

If confirmed in human intervention trials, these results could provide new impetus for dietary recommendations for the prevention and treatment of asthma and allergic lung disease.

Further Information

Original Publication

Musiol et al.: Dietary digestible carbohydrates are associated with higher prevalence of asthma in humans and with aggravated lung allergic inflammation in mice. Allergy. 2022;00:1-16.

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