When you have chronic lung disease, many factors can affect your appetite and weight. During my years as a dietitian, I’ve seen patients who have difficulty preparing and eating meals because of symptoms like shortness of breath, persistent coughing and fatigue. On top of that, if you take medications like diuretics and corticosteroids, you can experience weight gain or fluctuations. And if you suffer from depression or anxiety related to your disease, you may under eat or overeat to cope with stress.
If you have chronic lung disease, being either underweight or overweight can negatively impact your lung function and overall health. Let me help you understand why.
The Dangers of Being Underweight
On average, someone with chronic lung disease burns 10 times more calories than a healthy person does to breathe. You need to consume adequate calories to meet these increased energy demands. When your body doesn’t receive the vitamins and nutrients it needs, you’ll become fatigued more easily and the muscles you use to breathe will become weaker, which can cause you to feel more breathless than usual. You may lack the energy and strength to exercise, which will further weaken your respiratory muscles. You’ll also be at higher risk for infections because your immune system won’t be strong enough to fight off viruses and bacteria.
The Dangers of Being Overweight
When you have chronic lung disease, your lungs are already working harder to breathe than a healthy person’s lungs. Excess weight, especially around the midsection, puts even more strain on the heart and lungs. There is a direct association between obesity and increased shortness of breath for people with chronic lung conditions.
If you’re overweight, you may have less tolerance for exercise, especially if you experience more difficulty breathing when you move. But regular exercise can help you shed the extra pounds and teach your heart and lungs to work more efficiently.
Being overweight can also lead to other complications. You may be at risk for developing obstructive sleep apnea, a dangerous condition that causes your airway to become blocked while you sleep. Clinical studies have demonstrated a link between sleep apnea and excess weight, as well as a link between sleep apnea and chronic lung disease.
Lung Health Institute Can Help You Maintain a Healthy Weight
A balanced, nutritious diet full of fresh foods can help you maintain a healthy weight and sustain the energy your body needs to exercise, breathe and fight off infections. We can help you build meals that include protein, fiber, healthy fats and non-starchy vegetables.
At Lung Health Institute, we offer Anti-Inflammatory Initiative™ (AI²™) plans, which are wellness plans designed to meet the nutritional needs of chronic lung disease patients. Each plan has recipes and nutrition tips that teach you how to reduce sugar and carbohydrate intake and use fat to fuel your body instead. This type of diet can help you decrease full-body inflammation. We also offer cellular therapy treatments that can help improve lung inflammation. For more information on our treatment options, contact a patient coordinator today.