Stephanie Byrne

Which nutritional factors are associated with lung function in middle-aged adults?

S.Byrne photo

Supervisors names: Prof Mark Jenkins, Dr John Burgess, Dr Elasma Milanzi, and Dr Allison Hodge

Poor lung function and bronchial hyperresponsiveness are diagnostic indicators of respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Both of these diseases are highly prevalent and can be very debilitating. COPD is also a leading cause of death in Australia and globally. In middle-aged adults, asthma and COPD can be difficult to distinguish. Therefore, objective lung function measures such as spirometry and bronchial provocation challenges may be more appropriate outcome measures for research purposes rather than diagnosis.

Inadequate diet is the leading preventable risk factor contributing to disease in Australia. Consumption of foods like fruit, vegetables and animal fats may be involved in the development and progression of respiratory diseases, potentially through the effects of their nutritional components on inflammatory processes and immune system functioning. Research exploring the relationship between diet and lung function, however, has been inconclusive.

During my PhD I aim to investigate the relationship between diet and lung function in middle-aged adults. I will examine this relationship at the nutrient, food and dietary pattern levels and explore potential effect modifiers of these relationships.