Effects of Mediterranean Diet and Physical Activity on Pulmonary Function: A Cross-Sectional Analysis in the ILERVAS Project

Nutrients. 2019 Feb 3;11(2):329. doi: 10.3390/nu11020329.


A few studies showed that both adherence to Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) and physical activity practice have a positive impact on pulmonary function in subjects with lung disease. These associations are not well studied in subjects free from lung disease. In a cross-sectional study conducted in 3020 middle-aged subjects free of lung disease, adherence to the MedDiet using the Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener, and physical activity practice using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire short form were recorded. Respiratory function was assessed using forced spirometry and the results were evaluated according to the Global initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. Logistic regression models were used to analyze the associations between adherence to the MedDiet and physical activity practice with the presence of ventilatory defects. Participants with a high adherence to MedDiet, in comparison to those with low adherence, had both higher forced vital capacity (FVC; 100 (87⁻109) vs. 94 (82⁻105) % of predicted, p = 0.003) and forced expired volume in the first second (FEV1; 100 (89⁻112) vs. 93 (80⁻107) % of predicted, p < 0.001). According to their degree of physical activity, those subjects with a high adherence also had both higher FVC (100 (88⁻107) vs. 94 (83⁻105) % of predicted, p = 0.027) and FEV1 (100 (89⁻110) vs. 95 (84⁻108) % of predicted, p = 0.047) in comparison with those with low adherence. The multivariable logistic regression models showed a significant and independent association between both low adherence to MedDiet and low physical activity practice, and the presence of altered pulmonary patterns, with differences between men and women. However, no joint effect between adherence to MedDiet and physical activity practice on respiratory function values was observed. Low adherence to MedDiet and low physical activity practice were independently associated with pulmonary impairment. Therefore, the lung mechanics seem to benefit from heart-healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Keywords: Mediterranean diet; forced expiratory volume in the first second; forced vital capacity; lung function; physical activity; questionnaire.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Healthy Lifestyle
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spirometry
  • Vital Capacity