Pulmonary Fibrosis, Protein and the Need for Good Nutrition

by Jim Duffy

Pulmonary fibrosis is a serious disease that can possibly lead to increasing scarring of the lung tissues. The disease starts with injuries to the tissues, both within and between the alveoli (tiny air sacs) in the lungs. Continued damage leads to further scarring, which in turn can cause the lungs to become stiff.

A normal lung is flexible and pliant so that it can expand and contract for full breaths. The continued fibrosis (the medical term for scarring) makes breathing difficult and can lead to shortness of breath and a dry cough. Medications and therapy are usually used to treat pulmonary fibrosis, with the aim of improving lung function and quality of life for the sufferer. For those with advanced cases of pulmonary fibrosis or those who are not responding to treatment, there might need to be a lung transplant.

Timothy is concerned about his health. He has several problems that make him wonder if he does not have a severe problem developing. He goes to the doctor eventually with symptoms that include shortness of breath and a dry cough. In addition, he is always very tired and has lost almost twenty pounds although he has had no change in his diet at all. He has started feeling out of breath even when he is simply getting dressed and he can no longer do any of the things that he has previously enjoyed doing.

There are 300 million alveoli in each of the lungs, for a total of 600 million in the body. In each of these tiny air sacs, a small blood vessel removes oxygen from the blood and replaces it with carbon dioxide. This process is repeated every time that you breathe in and out and is necessary to keep the body supplied with oxygen.

Pulmonary fibrosis allows scarring to build up and make the lungs stiffer than they should be so that breathing is very difficult. There are several reasons that this might happen, including a problem with the nutrients inside of the body and a misfire in the healing process.

What Causes Pulmonary Fibrosis

After being diagnosed, considered to be a medical challenge in most cases, Tim will look at the factors that may have contributed to the damages to his lung. There are hundreds of factors that can damage the lungs and lead to pulmonary fibrosis, but some of the most common include:

- Environmental or occupational factors: there are a number of toxins and pollutants that you can come in contact with both in your job and daily life. Grain dust, sugar cane, and animal droppings can also cause these problems as well.

- Radiation: lung damage can occur in people who are given radiation treatment for lung or breast cancer. This damage may not show up for months or even years, after the first treatment was done. The use of chemotherapy can also increase the risk of damages to the lung.

- Medications: certain drugs can be harmful to the lungs, including some chemotherapy drugs, some heart medications, some psychiatric medications, and some antibiotics.

- Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also called GERD: when stomach acids back up into the esophagus, it can lead to damages not only to this structure but to the lungs as well.

- Lung infections and other medical conditions: some lung diseases, such as tuberculosis and pneumonia, can lead to the scarring that increases the risk for pulmonary fibrosis. Other conditions that can lead to this disease: systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, dermatomyostitis, poliomyelitis, Sjogren's syndrome and acidosis. It may also be associated with scleroderma.

(Source: The Mayo Clinic)

There are some times when the disease has no known causes or risk factors. In these cases, it is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Timothy has never been a smoker nor has he ever had to have chemo or radiation treatment for any reason. The only factor that may have contributed to the condition is the work that he does in a factory. In addition, he has also had several bouts with pneumonia in the past few winters, but was never that worried about it until now.

After diagnosis, which involved a chest X-ray and a bronchoscopy (a method that allowed for a biopsy), Timothy is being given his treatment options for pulmonary fibrosis. One of the things that he is going to have to work on is improving his nutrition.

He will need to make sure that he is getting all of the nutrition that his body needs to stay strong and keep his lung function where it needs to be. He has already lost some weight and the doctor would like to keep him from losing more. While he wants to comply as much as possible, it is not easy for him to eat because he just does not feel up to it. One of the suggestions that the doctor makes for him is to use a protein supplement. He tries one, but it is too much for him and he gives up. He finally finds another option in Profect, from Protica, which is small enough for him to consume without a lot of effort. For every serving, he gets 25 grams of protein without carbohydrates or fat. The additional protein is needed to prevent any further damage to his lungs and to keep his immune system working at its highest level.

Timothy is shocked though when his doctor tells him that he needs to start exercising more frequently. At first, it makes him feel even worse to move around, but after a few weeks, he finds out that he is actually feeling a little better and can breathe a little easier. He tries to make sure that he is also getting enough rest each night.

Once pulmonary fibrosis starts it cannot be reversed. It also cannot be stopped from progressing further. The treatments that are used are meant to slow this progression and to help keep the quality of life high.

Medications that are used to treat this disease include prednisone, a corticosteroid. Others include methotrexate or cyclosporine (both are immunosuppressants), and N-acetylcysteine, a derivative of a naturally occurring amino acid that may be added to the prednisone, which can slow the progression in some people. Another drug, pirfenidone, is being used in clinical trials and is showing some promise. (Source: The Mayo Clinic).

These medications can cause serious side effects, which can include diabetes, glaucoma, skin cancer, and lymphoma. They may also cause the body to produce fewer red blood cells. Because these side effects are potentially as dangerous as the condition which the medication is treating, it is important that the doctor monitor for signs of improvement and discontinue the drugs if there is none after six months time. There are some people who will have no response on the medications at all. The treatment option of last resort for pulmonary fibrosis is a lung transplant.

In addition to these, there are therapies that are used to improve the quality of life. These include oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation. The wait for lungs to become available can be very long and emotionally draining for most people. In addition, they must make sure to stay as healthy as possible so that they can be ready for surgery whenever the call comes in.

About the Author:

Protica Research (Protica, Inc.) specializes in the development of Capsulized Foods. Protica manufactures Profect, IsoMetric, Pediagro, Fruitasia and over 100 other brands, including Medicare-approved, whey protein bullets for bariatric surgery patients. You can learn more at Protica Research - Copyright

Some interesting vitamin D secrets

by Andrew Desjardins

Everyone knows that we need vitamin D, but how much do we know about it? In this article we're taking an in-depth look at some vitamin D facts.

Vitamin D, or calciferol as it is also known, is a fat-soluble vitamin and pro-hormone. This means that is a precursor to a hormone that is used by the body. The name calciferol refers to its primary function of boosting the deposit of calcium in the bones. There are different forms of the vitamin, of which D2 and D3 are the most important in the human body.

One of the most interesting vitamin D facts is that it's most well known function is to balance the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body. The absorption of calcium is assisted by the vitamin, building bone density and strength. This means that a vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, both skeletal diseases.

The most important source of vitamin D is sunlight - the ultraviolet rays trigger the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin. In certain geographic areas there are insufficient sunlight during wintertime, and in some cases the modern lifestyle prevents people from getting enough sunlight exposure.

Another source of vitamin D is dietary and supplemental Dietary vitamin sources are fatty fish, fortified food, and fish oils. Mushrooms are the only vegan source of naturally significant levels of vitamin D.

Some interesting vitamin D facts

* Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to osteoporosis, depression, diabetes and obesity, prostate cancer and breast cancer

* Ultraviolet sunlight rays cannot penetrate glass, so your skin will not generate vitamin D if you are getting your sun exposure through a car or office window.

* The use of sunscreens will prevent synthesis of vitamin D by your body. Therefore get some unprotected sun regularly during the cooler hours of he day.

* You cannot overdose on vitamin D by overexposure to the sun: your body will stop manufacturing the vitamin.

* Dietary sources of vitamin D hardly ever provide sufficient vitamin D, even if you use fortified products. Supplementation is almost always necessary in certain areas of the world.

* Kidney and liver problems can prevent your body from activating the vitamin D.

* Fat can prevent the circulation of vitamin D, so obese people need higher levels of supplementation.

Vitamin D facts: some groups of people are more likely to be vitamin D deficient

* Babies that are breastfed and do not get enough sun exposure may suffer a deficiency, which in extreme cases may cause rickets.

* Older people may need more supplementation, as older skin is less efficient.

* A darker skin is less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D.

* Some diseases, e.g. cystic fibrosis, some forms of liver disease, and Crohn's disease may affect the body's ability to synthesize and use vitamin D negatively.

In view of these facts, you will agree that it is extremely beneficial to your health to ensure that you have sufficient amounts of this vitamin in your system. As with any supplementation program, it is a good idea to check with your doctor before taking additional vitamins, as although side effects are extremely rare, they may occur.

About the Author:

Learn more about Vitamin D deficiency symptoms. Stop by www.vitamin-d-deficiency-symptoms.com where you can find out all about Vitamin D deficiency and what it can do for you.

Kwashiorkor In An Affluent Society

by Jim Duffy

Kwashiokor is a form of protein-energy malnutrition that we generally associate with children from war-torn countries of Africa. Financial and social affluence generally protects our population, especially the children, from protein deprivation. The low incidence of Kwashiokor delays its diagnosis in the special groups that are at risk of developing it. Chase HP, in a review of kwashiorkor, suggests that children on severe protein restriction due to nutritional ignorance, perceived milk intolerance, or food faddism can develop Kwashiokar. Chronic malabsorptive conditions such as cystic fibrosis are also a high-risk group. Hospitalized patients with decreased nutritional intake or severe nutritional loss are also prone to protein-energy malnutrition.

The symptoms include retardation in stature and tissue development, poor development of muscle and lack of tone, edema, potbelly, swollen legs and face, anorexia, and diarrhea. The person stops interacting with the surroundings. The pathologic and biochemical changes include fatty infiltration of the liver, reduced serum levels of triglycerides, phospholipids, and cholesterol, reduced amylase, lyase, and trypsin. Serum proteins and albumin fractions are markedly reduced. Hemoglobin levels are especially reduced. This could be a serious complication leading to blindness and death. (Chetali Agrawal, 2000)

Dietary management for kwashiorkor concentrates mainly on providing a diet that is high in protein. Five grams of proteins/kg of body weight per day should be given for the existing weight. The calories derived from protein should be 10% of the total calculated calories per day if the main source is animal protein. If the main or the only source is from cereals and pulses, then the percentage of calories derived from protein can be 13 to 14% of the total calories because of the net protein utilization of cereals and pulses is around 60% whereas in milk or eggs, it is around 90%. Though vegetable proteins are as good as milk proteins in reversing the acute manifestation of kwashiorkor, they are inferior in their ability to promote regeneration of serum albumin. This can be overcome by giving 3 parts of vegetable protein to one part of animal protein like skim milk. (Srilakshmi)

Dietary supplements containing proteins like whey and casein can be of benefit in malnourished subjects. Casein is a milk protein and has the ability to form a gel or clot in the stomach. The ability to form this clot makes it very efficient in nutrient supply. The clot is able to provide a sustained slow release of amino acids into the blood stream, sometimes lasting for several hours. (Boirie et al., 1997)

Micellar casein is an extremely slow digesting and rich protein source that continues to feed the muscle (which is essential for kwashiorkor) long after whey protein has passed through the digestive system. In fact, studies with this under-rated form of isolated casein protein (Proc Natl. Acad Sci USA 1997) have demonstrated it to sustain steady amino acid elevation for an incredible seven hours. It was shown to offer a strong anti-catabolic effect not noticed with fast digesting whey protein, and actually fostered a much more positive overall net protein balance in comparison. Glutamine is the predominant amino acid in casein, which plays an important role in brain metabolism. Proline, aspartic, leucine, lysine, and valine are also present. Casein is a good source of essential amino acids.

Whey proteins are made up of a-lacalbumin and -lactoglobulin (which defend against infection), albumin, the immunoglobulins, enzymes and protease, peptones, and -lactoglobulin accounts for about 50% of total whey protein. They also contain small amounts of lactoferrin (iron, containing protein having protecting effect) and serum transferin. (Srilakshmi, 1996)

Whey proteins provide the highest value of BCAAs (Branched Chain amino acids). This is highly valued for muscle building--an essential requirement in kwashiorkor--and recovery. Whey proteins are the highest quality of proteins as they contain the best combination of amino acids as compared to proteins in dairy products, soy, vegetable, and even meat. Whey proteins also support the immune functions by increasing glutathione levels, thereby exhibiting antioxidants properties. Whey proteins contain many similar ingredients found in a mother's milk. Other benefits of whey proteins include the fact that they are easily absorbed, which help in increasing lean muscle mass and helps fat loss.

It is necessary to maintain electrolyte balance in patients with Protein Energy Malnutrition. Vitamin and mineral supplementation must be given according to the physician's advice. If vitamin A deficiency is present, oral administration of a single dose of 50,000 International Units (I.U.s) of fat-soluble vitamin A should be given immediately, followed by 5000 units daily. The deficiency symptoms will be cured in about two weeks. Anemia is most frequently encountered in people suffering from protein energy malnutrition. For the treatment of anemia, ferrous ammonium citrate (0.8g) should be given daily in the form of syrup in three divided doses for a period of one month. 100 mcg of Folic acid should be given daily. (Srilakshmi)

Treatment strategy involves provision of adequate protein, provision of casein and whey protein supplementation, provision of vitamin and mineral supplementation, resolving life threatening conditions, restoring nutritional status without disruption of homeostasis ensuring nutritional rehabilitation. Criteria for improvement involves disappearance of mental apathy and edema, rise in serum albumin level and an increase in weight gain.

About the Author:

Protica Research (Protica, Inc.) specializes in the development of Capsulized Foods. Protica manufactures Profect, IsoMetric, Pediagro, Fruitasia and over 100 other brands, including Medicare-approved, whey protein shots for cancer patients. You can learn more at Protica Research - Copyright

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