One of the common symptoms of Pulmonary Fibrosis is dyspnea, or “air hunger”. Your body is starved for oxygen, and the scarring in your lungs makes it increasingly harder to replace what you use.
Maybe you can ease your hunger for oxygen by feeding the rest of your body?
Pulmonary Fibrosis is often the end result of another condition, like rheumatoid arthritis or exposure to harmful lung irritants such as asbestos. It is part of a family of about 100 related diseases, and those with PF are often categorized by the root cause as opposed to the actual disease. There is an entire class of diseases named for their cause, and all lumped under a diagnosis of hypersensitivity pneumonitis. We refer to them as Farmer’s lung, mollusk shell lung, poultry lung, maple bark disease, and other catchy monikers. Workers in our food industry are exposed to dust, mold, and other irritants put off by items being prepared for our dinner table.
Whenever anyone talks about food and health it eventually comes down to nutrients. The knee-jerk reaction is to boost one’s nutrition by downing a handful of vitamins and dietary supplements. Pills are, however, a poor substitute for eating a decent meal.
One of the dangers that comes with PF is when one overeats. Trying to digest too much food or having a full stomach puts an extra burden on the respiratory system. Living with PF also makes eating less compelling. A better option, and one easier to manage, would be to eat less, more often. That’s right; after a lifetime of admonishments to stop snacking, we’re encouraging you to munch away! We aren’t becoming advocates for cookies and pork rinds, but frequent bites of vegetables, fruits, and whole grain snacks. Much like the rest of your diet, we suggest an overall diet low in ugly fats (saturated and processed), cholesterol, and tons of sugars. Your diet should be geared towards useful calories first, and satisfying your cravings second. You don’t want to complicate a lack of energy with a lack of energy because your only meals are junk.
Your use of calories is equally important. A competitive bicyclist is going to burn somewhere in excess of 1,100 calories per hour. Sending a text is about seven. Very basic activities can make effective use of your calories and help you to develop an active lifestyle. Walking or taking the stairs can be as beneficial as jogging. We know that living with a chronic lung condition makes exercise scary, but remaining sedentary creates a vicious circle. Inactivity weakens your muscles, contributing to fatigue, which makes you less likely to exercise, which makes you less active, which weakens your muscles. The wheel wasn’t invented for you, but it will keep turning.
The best method for managing your health is often creating a strong support group. Not only will you be sharing concerns and ideas with kindred spirits, they can also often help to motivate your lifestyle choices. Isn’t it easier to get up and walk if there is someone standing at the door waiting for you (perhaps a dog with a leash in its mouth)? Exercise programs are much easier to initiate and maintain with the urging and support of a partner. Peer pressure is a powerful weapon.
The same holds true for your dietary habits. If you’re dining alone, it’s easy to pop in a frozen dinner or munch out of a bag, but try justifying that to someone whom you’ve invited to supper. Plan your menus and meals out in advance. Perhaps some strategic planning of your well earned snacks as well? If you actually have a plan, it’s much easier to stick with it.
We can never remember if it’s “feed a cold-starve a fever” or “feed a fever-starve a cold”. We do know this one by heart:
Feed your machine to feed your lungs.
Don’t go air-hungry.