The lungs are just as complex as any other organ in our body. Just a minor imbalance or damage may lead to some kind of disease or even a dangerous and life-threatening one
Also, when it comes to most pulmonary illnesses, it is important to take into consideration the diet and the food that will be given to patients who are suffering from them. This concept is in fact applicable to all diseases but for this article, we will be focusing on a certain pulmonary illness called pulmonary fibrosis and which steps to take in terms of diet while living with the illness.
What is Pulmonary Fibrosis
The lungs are prone to damage when they are not taken care of. However, there is also an instance where the lungs get affected by major scarring and damages of the tissues which can be due to an unknown cause; this condition is called pulmonary fibrosis.
Nowadays, there seems to be a little problem regarding how the number of people with pulmonary fibrosis is suddenly rising. Although this condition is not that common wherein only 20 people out of a 100,000 population are bound to get affected, those who are having pulmonary fibrosis are slowly increasing in number throughout the years. This is why medical professionals decided to think of ways on how to at least lessen the symptoms of the disease.
Most cases of pulmonary fibrosis are described to be chronic conditions which are kinds of diseases that generally lasts or stays in the body for a long period of time, and they are also considered to be progressive which means they worsen over time. People who have pulmonary fibrosis tend to have different encounters and experiences with their disease, but they are all similarly suffering from issues with breathing no matter what they are doing. This means that patients who have this condition come across breathing problems while they are doing physical activities or even if they are just sitting down to rest.
Is there a cure?
Doctors and other medical professionals noticed that pulmonary fibrosis is a case to case basis. According to their findings, the patients each have differences in their conditions, no matter how small they are. Also, they said that there are patients with pulmonary fibrosis that do not worsen but there are also some of them who get to encounter the progressive part of the disease. Unfortunately, until now there is not even a single known cure for this pulmonary disease. The only way to control the disease is to live with it while using medications that can tone down the symptoms.
Once the lungs get scarred, it can either stay as it is or the scarring may start affecting other portions of the lungs; which causes the worsening of the disease. It is hard for pulmonary fibrosis patients to engage themselves in most physical activities. Even the easiest task such as walking and climbing a few stairs may already be a struggle for them. Sadly, those who have worse scarrings are prone to suffering breathing problems even while they are at rest.
Stages of Pulmonary Fibrosis
So far, doctors are used to naming each stage of every disease depending on their severity. In the case of pulmonary fibrosis, it can be categorized into three stages: mild, moderate, and severe. But when it comes to medical terms, they prefer to name the stages into early stage, advanced stage, and end-stage.
The early stage is comparable to the mild stage. This is where the disease only causes minor symptoms and it means there is only a few scarring seen in the lung tissues. People who are in the early stage of pulmonary fibrosis may only suffer from breathing problems when they are doing intensive and tiring physical activities. The advanced stage is when the patient should be more careful since this stage will suddenly lead to the end-stage when the disease is not properly taken of. The end-stage is where the worst happens, the patient is about to experience really severe and often problems with their breathing that may greatly affect their daily life in general.
Symptoms of Pulmonary Fibrosis
In case someone experiences pulmonary fibrosis symptoms, the best thing to do is to get a checkup from a doctor. Be mindful of the following since once any of the following symptoms are experienced, there is a huge possibility that the person may be suffering from the disease.
- There is frequent shortness of breath, especially while exercising.
- Breaths are shallow and fast.
- Dry cough that already lasts for a long time and without any sign of recovery.
- Tiredness and feeling lethargic.
- Pain in most joints and muscles.
- Unnecessary weight loss without any cause.
- Lower legs become swollen.
So, how is it possible to control and relieve the symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis? The answer is in the diet. A healthy diet, which is also important in handling any other kind of disease, is said to make a huge impact in taking care of pulmonary fibrosis symptoms.
What to Eat and What Not to Eat
Diet is crucial when it comes to pulmonary diseases. Even conditions like asthma are in need of a strict diet monitoring in order to avoid triggering an attack and to relieve its symptoms. For pulmonary fibrosis, there is a list of foods that will be very helpful in maintaining a healthy body even with the disease.
Patients with pulmonary fibrosis are advised to eat the following food:
Fruits and vegetables
Just like how it is for other diseases, eating healthy varieties of fruits and vegetables are advisable to be added to the diet. When choosing which fruits and vegetables to eat, it is best to pick the ones that are richer in antioxidants. Antioxidants are powerful compounds that are important for the body. You can try eating most types of berries, kiwi, carrots, kale, and bell peppers for example.
Healthy carbohydrates that we can get from whole grains can give our bodies the energy we need. Also, to avoid any possible issues in the future, it is required that the patient will get the carbs from healthy sources. Foods such as whole grain bread loaves, whole grain cereals, or anything that is 100 percent made from whole grain are ideal for the diet.
Protein is also needed for pulmonary fibrosis diets. The best bet for protein-rich foods is seeds and nuts such as walnuts, almonds, flaxseed, and chia seeds.
It is also suggested that people with any pulmonary issues should eat small amounts of food in a day rather than having three heavy meals all at once. This is because bloatedness and fullness can result in issues in breathing.
Do your best to avoid these foods if you are suffering from pulmonary fibrosis:
Excessive and unhealthy fats can contribute to conditions like the additional weight that can cause pressure in the lungs. This makes it harder to breathe. To avoid these foods, you can try using other methods of cooking like baking.
Too much salt
Whatever happens, it is not advisable to consume amounts of salt that are more than enough. Once the body gets excessive salt intake, there is a possibility that the water that passes through the body is retained; therefore the water will contribute to breathing problems. You can use healthy herbs and spices instead if you do not wish to eat bland foods.
Foods and drinks high in acid
Acidic foods and drinks are most likely responsible for most cases of heartburn. Heartburn then results in acid reflux which, when it exists in an individual, can cause pulmonary symptoms to worsen. In short, avoid these kinds of foods and drinks.