Special Diet Helps Treat Dangerous Acute Lung Disease

A nutrient-rich diet loaded with antioxidant vitamins and fish oil may help people with a potentially fatal lung disorder breath better. In critically ill patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome, the diet "reduced inflammation in the lungs and, just as important, had no apparent side effects.

Researchers studied 98 intensive care patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome who had to be fed through tubes. They found that patients on the experimental diet formula spent about 5 fewer days on a respirator and about 5 fewer days in the intensive care unit than those who received a standard liquid diet.

The special diet formula contained beta-carotene and vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants that help protect healthy cells from free radicals, the destructive byproducts of normal body processes. It also contained two fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (fish oil) and gamma-linolenic acid.

Critical Care Medicine November 1999;27:1409-1420.

COMMENT: Borage was used in this study but evening primrose oil, although more expensive, it is far better due to not having other fatty acids (like nervonic) which can impair biochemistry. I find it encouraging that acute care medicine is starting to document some of the benefits that can occur with optimization of diet. The researchers in this study did not include zinc, but I suspect that would have further aided repair. However, most likely the fatty acids from fish oil and GLA were likely responsible for the majority of the benefit.

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