The Direct Influence of Healthy Eating on the Body

Charlene Marshall avatar

by Charlene Marshall |

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Healthy eating is a popular topic on the Pulmonary Fibrosis News Forums. Members discuss their attempts to promote optimal pulmonary wellness by improving their eating habits. They also share what foods they avoid because of side effects and what foods help them feel better.

Someone once said, “Eat food as your medicine. Otherwise, you will have to eat medicine as your food.” However, I always wonder how this applies to people with a chronic illness, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). I am not suggesting that patients with IPF neglect their antifibrotic medications and focus solely on eating healthy. But it is important to ensure that the two are working in tandem to benefit you.

I recently attended a session of this year’s PFF Summit called “Health and Wellness with Pulmonary Fibrosis.” The session was facilitated by two physicians, a senior dietician, and a respiratory therapist who specializes in pulmonary rehabilitation for patients with IPF. I sat next to Noah Greenspan, who started the Pulmonary Wellness and Rehabilitation Center.

Needless to say, I was surrounded by brilliance.

Weight loss isn’t the only benefit of healthy eating. Real food and a balanced diet fuel, protect, and optimize bodily functions. Diets for rapid weight loss, including keto diets, vegan diets, and paleo or Atkins diets, emerge regularly. They may help people achieve their weight loss goals, but they often aren’t a sustainable way of eating.

Barbra Swanson, a senior dietician at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, had a simple message for us: It’s best to eat a balanced diet of protein, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. I tend to be a fairly healthy eater, and I am grateful that I enjoy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. However, the session showed me how the food we consume affects our bodies, particularly our lungs.

According to Swanson, everything we eat produces carbon dioxide, energy, and water. Unsurprisingly, sugar produces the greatest amount of carbon dioxide, so patients with IPF must avoid frequent consumption of sugar. However, the natural sugars in various fruits do not affect the body the same way that processed sugar does. It is important to consume fruit as part of a balanced diet.

Swanson also spoke about the importance of foods that are high in bioflavonoids, which are beneficial to the lungs. Citrus bioflavonoids can be consumed orally or via supplement and are particularly helpful in boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, and working as an antioxidant. I had never heard of bioflavonoids before the summit and am trying to incorporate them into my diet.

Unfortunately, patients with IPF often struggle with excess mucus in the lungs, which can complicate or stifle the cough that accompanies IPF. I learned that even though dairy is part of the food pyramid, it isn’t necessary to consume. Dairy consumption is beneficial, but some patients with IPF might be unable to tolerate the increase in mucus.

I also attended a session on the lung transplant experience, facilitated by Doctor Timothy Whelan from the Medical University of South Carolina. He said the two most common comorbidities post-transplant are diabetes and hypertension. Both can be influenced by the food we consume, which emphasizes the importance of healthy eating habits, especially for people with a chronic illness such as IPF.

Understanding the impact of food consumption on our bodies, particularly our lungs, was beneficial. I hope this information is helpful to you as well.


Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.


Patricia Taylor avatar

Patricia Taylor

I have tried to get travel insurance
But I have been refused twice.
Presently I am not on any oxygen supplement.
I have gerd and a slight cough off and on but not to any great degree.

Does anybody know a travel insurance company that will insure me for travel?

Also I live in Burlington and would like to try cold laser treatments. Do you know of any doctors in my area that do this treatment? It seems chiropractors are the doctors that administer this treatment

Charlene Marshall avatar

Charlene Marshall

Hi Patricia,

Thanks for reading my columns and reaching out via the comments. Sorry to hear of your struggles with travel insurance! I know this is a difficult topic for many of our forum members as well. Are you still employed? If so, your employer should hopefully offer travel insurance as part of your benefits. This is how I am covered as I bought into this before I was diagnosed, which I realize is very lucky. There has been some discussion about travel insurance on the PF Forums which you can check out if you're interested, along with laser therapy options: ... I think Dr.Andy Hall (chiropractor who started informing us about laser) generated a list of service providers who do this in Toronto. I can get you his contract if interested. Let me know!


Chrisite avatar


On point, as always Charlene. My mom and I were just talking about diet this morning! Eating right helps your overall health but I'm glad to hear that they had a session at the conference which was geared more toward eating right for pulmonary wellness. I never knew that CO2 from food was a factor, but it totally makes sense. I notice feeling more fatigued and having a longer recovery period when I exercise if I've been eating a bunch of sugar. So interesting!
Also, the rating system for our posts is definitely not working. I gave you 5 stars for this but it changed it to two >:(

Charlene Marshall avatar

Charlene Marshall

Hi Christie,

So nice to hear from you as always - thanks for your kind words! Yes the session I attended at the Summit about the physiological impact on food in our bodies was fascinating, I really learned a lot. It is interesting that all foods produce C02, some more than other of course, isn't it? And then tracking it back to how we feel makes so much sense. :)

As for the rating system - yes I've had a lot of people notice this. I'm going to bring it back to Joe to see if it is a glitch, we want to ensure those accurate ratings are captured :)

Keto Connect avatar

Keto Connect

This is one of the best articles I have seen in a long time! Thank you for sharing these helpful tips!

Charlene Marshall avatar

Charlene Marshall

Good Monring,

Thank you for reading my column and reaching out via the comments. I'm glad you found the article helpful -- I appreciate your kind words!


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