New study looks at benefits of soy to relieve asthma symptoms

When it's this hot out and the air is thick, breathing can be uncomfortable. And if you have asthma, it can be that much worse. But adding a simple ingredient to your diet can make all the difference.

For Katrina Muska Duff, days like this are bittersweet. She likes working in her garden, but knows between the heat and the pollen, an asthma flare could be just a breath away.

Katrina says, "Hot summer days, like today, with the humidity - a lot of times when there's the air quality alerts, i do feel my asthma kick in a little bit."

Katrina makes sure to keep her rescue inhaler nearby. But recently she started trying something else. She added more soy to her diet.

Dr. John Mastronarde, an asthma specialist with Ohio State University Medical Center says, "Americans, in general, do not take a whole lot of soy. But the groups of folks who did, seemed to have better lung function. And that made us think, well, maybe, this is something that could improve their asthma as well."

Dr. Mastronarde is helping conduct a new national study to see if adding more soy can make breathing easier.

Doctors say there's an ingredient in soy that's a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that may help control asthma.

In places like Asia where soy consumption is higher, asthma complications tend to be lower.

Dr. Mastronarde says, "We have some very good drugs for asthma. And in a majority of patients they work pretty well. The problem is, when the first line medicines don't really work, then we're much more limited."

But if soy proves to be effective in helping to control symptoms, it could be a simple and inexpensive option for people like Katrina. She says, "I already take vitamins on a daily basis, so I thought maybe adding another supplement to my daily vitamin intake wouldn't be a big deal."

The study is being conducted in a dozen states, including here in Maryland. Results will be out in the next couple of years.

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