So the ultimate question becomes could eating more fruits and vegetables help you live to a ripe old age?
"This study shows that diet might help fix lung damage in people who have stopped smoking". Processed food that included fruits and vegetables like tomato sauce did not appear to have the same benefits as normal tomatoes, especially in terms of lung health. The team of researchers discovered that the magic number of tomatoes seemed to be two a day, while three servings of other fresh fruit slowed the decline, compared to the people who included less than one tomato or less than one serving of other fruit a day.
"This study shows that diet might help fix lung damage in people who have stopped smoking", said Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, assistant professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of International Health and the study's lead author.
The researchers also observed a slower lung decline in adults who had the highest consumption of tomatoes, both in former smokers and those who've never smoked.
Garcia-Larsen added that the findings also support the need for a greater focus on dietary recommendations, especially for people at risk of developing respiratory diseases such as COPD.More news: Royal Philharmonic cuts ties with Charles Dutoit over assault allegations
Assistant Professor Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, who worked on the study at Johns Hopkins University, United States, encouraged people to eat more fresh fruit.
In the test, one measure how much air a person can exhale in a second and in another test how much air can a person inhale in 6 seconds. The study controlled for factors such as age, height, sex, body mass index (an indicator of obesity), socio-economic status, physical activity and total energy intake. Though, there is the weak point in the study as the diet of participants only get analysed in the staring of a disease.
Among former smokers, the diet-lung-function connection was even more striking. The lungs start suffering damage around the age of 30, but the results showed that healthy eating could combat these harmful effects.
Smoking and air pollution with microparticles often leads to the development of so-called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), when airways gradually narrow due to the inflammation of the lung tissue.
But she stressed that for people with actual lung illnesses, such as COPD, diet should be seen as a helpful adjunct to medication, not a substitute.