The Respiratory System

1. Introduction

Nutrition and the respiratory system.
Women and children breathe at a faster rate than men. Open in a separate window. There is promising evidence that nutritional supplementation in COPD is important and can help to alleviate some of the adverse effects of the disease, particularly muscle wasting and weight loss. Because your lungs aren't made of muscle, inhalation and exhalation are controlled by the diaphragm and muscles between the ribs. The conducting zone of the respiratory system includes the organs and structures not directly involved in gas exchange trachea and bronchi.

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Top 10: Gasp-worthy Facts about the Respiratory System

CO2 is carbon dioxide, and O2 is oxygen. A major organ of the respiratory system, each lung houses structures of both the conducting and respiratory zones. The main function of the lungs is to perform the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide with air from the atmosphere.

To this end, the lungs exchange respiratory gases across a very large epithelial surface area—about 70 square meters—that is highly permeable to gases. The lungs are pyramid-shaped, paired organs that are connected to the trachea by the right and left bronchi; below the lungs is the diaphragm, a flat, dome-shaped muscle located at the base of the lungs and thoracic cavity.

Each lung is composed of smaller units called lobes. Fissures separate these lobes from each other. The right lung consists of three lobes: The left lung consists of two lobes: The major function of the lungs is to perform gas exchange, which requires blood flowing through the lung tissues the pulmonary circulation.

This blood supply contains deoxygenated blood and travels to the lungs where erythrocytes, also known as red blood cells, pick up oxygen to be transported to tissues throughout the body.

The pulmonary artery carries deoxygenated blood to the lungs. The pulmonary artery branches multiple times as it follows the bronchi, and each branch becomes progressively smaller in diameter down to the tiny capillaries where the alveoli release carbon dioxide from blood into the lungs to be exhaled and take up oxygen from inhaled air to oxygenate the blood. Once the blood is oxygenated, it drains from the alveoli by way of multiple pulmonary veins that exit the lungs to carry oxygen to the rest of the body.

Antioxidants and Oxidative Stress Dietary antioxidants are an important dietary factor in protecting against the damaging effects of oxidative stress in the airways, a characteristic of respiratory diseases [ 50 ]. Vitamin C Vitamin C has been enthusiastically investigated for benefits in asthma and links to asthma prevention. Flavonoids Flavonoids are potent antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory as well as anti-allergic actions due in part, to their ability to neutralise ROS [ 95 ].

Vitamin D Epidemiological studies show promising associations between vitamin D and lung health; however the mechanisms responsible for these effects are poorly understood.

Minerals Some minerals have also been found to be protective in respiratory conditions. Obesity, Adipokines and Respiratory Disease Overnutrition and resulting obesity are clearly linked with asthma, though the mechanisms involved are still under investigation. Undernutrition and Respiratory Disease Though underweight has not been well studied in asthma, an observational study in Japan reported that subjects with asthma who were underweight had poorer asthma control than their normal weight counterparts [ ].

Conclusions Dietary intake appears to be important in both the development and management of respiratory diseases, shown through epidemiological and cross-sectional studies and supported by mechanistic studies in animal models. Open in a separate window. Author Contributions Bronwyn Berthon and Lisa Wood contributed to the study concept and design and were both involved in the preparation and completion of the manuscript.

Conflicts of Interest The authors declare no conflicts of interest. Nutrients and foods for the primary prevention of asthma and allergy: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Prospective study of dietary patterns and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among US women. Dietary interventions in asthma. Diet and allergic diseases among population aged 0 to 18 years: A cultural model for healthy eating.

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Mediterranean diet is associated with reduced asthma and rhinitis in Mexican children. Mediterranean diet in pregnancy is protective for wheeze and atopy in childhood. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and fresh fruit intake are associated with improved asthma control. Dietary factors lead to innate immune activation in asthma. The effect of lifestyle on wheeze, atopy, and bronchial hyperreactivity in Asian and white children.

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Maternal fish consumption during pregnancy and risk of early childhood asthma. The effect of perinatal omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on inflammatory markers and allergic diseases: Dietary marine fatty acids fish oil for asthma in adults and children Cochrane Review updated [ PubMed ].

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Antioxidants, oxidative stress, and pulmonary function in individuals diagnosed with asthma or COPD. Lycopene-rich treatments modify noneosinophilic airway inflammation in asthma: Increased anti-oxidant enzyme activity and biological oxidation in placentae of pregnancies complicated by maternal asthma. Circulating antioxidant profile of pregnant women with asthma.

Dairy food, calcium and vitamin D intake in pregnancy, and wheeze and eczema in infants. Prenatal factors and the development of asthma. Mega-dose vitamin C attenuated lung inflammation in mouse asthma model.

Consumption of fresh fruit rich in vitamin C and wheezing symptoms in children. Association of nutrient intake and wheeze or asthma in a Greek pre-school population. Effect of fresh fruit consumption on lung function and wheeze in children. Dietary antioxidants and asthma in adults: Comparison of plasma and intake levels of antioxidant nutrients in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and healthy people in Taiwan: European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition.

Vitamin E isoforms as modulators of lung inflammation. Effects of vitamin E on mitochondrial dysfunction and asthma features in an experimental allergic murine model. Supplemental and highly elevated tocopherol doses differentially regulate allergic inflammation: Does dietary intake of vitamins C and E influence lung function in older people?

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Associations between maternal antioxidant intakes in pregnancy and infant allergic outcomes. Maternal antioxidant intake in pregnancy and wheezing illnesses in children at 2 year of age.

Consumption of vegetables, fruit, and antioxidants during pregnancy and wheeze and eczema in infants. Low maternal vitamin E intake during pregnancy is associated with asthma in 5-year-old children. Antenatal determinants of neonatal immune responses to allergens. Complex effects of vitamin E and vitamin C supplementation on in vitro neonatal mononuclear cell responses to allergens. Food sources and bioavailability. Flavonoids such as luteolin, fisetin and apigenin are inhibitors of interleukin-4 and interleukin production by activated human basophils.

Flavonoids and related compounds as anti-allergic substances. The flavonoid quercetin inhibits proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha gene expression in normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells via modulation of the NF-kappa beta system. Prophylactic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and luteolin on airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation in cats with experimentally-induced asthma.

Apigenin inhibits allergen-induced airway inflammation and switches immune response in a murine model of asthma. Immunosuppressive effects of fisetin in ovalbumin-induced asthma through inhibition of NF-kB activity. Anti-inflammatory activity of quercetin and isoquercitrin in experimental murine allergic asthma. Dietary intake of flavonoids and asthma in adults. Pycnogenol improvements in asthma management. Maternal food consumption during pregnancy and asthma, respiratory and atopic symptoms in 5-year-old children.

Vitamin D in Fetal Development: Findings From a Birth Cohort Study. Modulation of the immune system by UV radiation: More than just the effects of vitamin D?

Vitamin D deficiency and the lung: Disease initiator or disease modifier? Effect of 1, OH 2D3 a vitamin D analogue on passively sensitized human airway smooth muscle cells. Vitamin D deficiency causes deficits in lung function and alters lung structure.

Relationship between serum vitamin D, disease severity and airway remodeling in children with asthma. Serum vitamin D levels and severe asthma exacerbations in the Childhood Asthma Management Program study. Decreased serum vitamin D levels in children with asthma are associated with increased corticosteroid use.

Reversing the defective induction of IL secreting regulatory T cells in glucocorticoid-resistant asthma patients. Effect of vitamin D3 on asthma treatment failures in adults with symptomatic asthma and lower vitamin D levels: The VIDA randomized clinical trial. Relationship between serum hydroxyvitamin D and pulmonary function survey. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is associated with low levels of vitamin D. Bone and Joint Health. Does Sugar Affect the Immune System? How Does the Immune System Work?

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