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  • Do Certain Foods Worsen Breathing for IPF Patients?

    Posted by Charlene Marshall on March 21, 2021 at 11:17 am

    Throughout the years on this forum, we’ve talked a lot about the importance of eating healthy when living with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Eating a balanced diet is important for everyone, but especially for those who have a chronic illness.

    Many of you know I started a new job in January which I am loving and my days feel very “full” during the week. I find it easier to meal prep on the weekend, so that I know what I’m eating for each meal and buy groceries accordingly. This also helps me plan healthy meals, which I am very good at maintaining throughout the week. However, I have a harder time with this on weekends!

    I am very tired by Friday night and reward myself with a takeout meal. The first thing I always notice about takeout food is the salt; I wake up in the middle of the night needing a lot of water if I have something like pizza, sushi or various other takeout options. When I have this meal on Friday, I don’t overeat and I’m still active throughout the weekend (as much as I can be) : walking my dog, tidying the house, etc. However, I really notice a difference in my breathing after consuming takeout food, and I’m wondering if it is causing excess inflammation in my body in general or it’s due to the excess sodium that I’m noticing?


    Have you ever experienced a difference in your breathing after eating a less-healthy meal than you’re used to?


    I don’t want to have to stop having takeout entirely, as I do enjoy this as a treat and not having to cook for a night, but I’m wondering if I should be more intentional about what takeout foods I order. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this topic!


    Gloria M Wheeler replied 1 year, 12 months ago 9 Members · 12 Replies
  • 12 Replies
  • Augusta Adkins

    March 23, 2021 at 4:41 pm

    I am new to this diagnosis of IPF.

    I eat no dairy, red meat or sugar. Trying to cut back on inflammation and chances of cancer since sugar feeds cancer. Breathing not a big issue yet. So not sure if it helps breathing.

  • Charlene Marshall

    March 25, 2021 at 9:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us Augusta! Welcome to the PF forums as well. Like you, I try to cut out diary and I eat very little sugar, but I need red meat as my iron is low. I’m finding now that the more “less healthy” food I eat, the more my breathing suffers. I’m going to work hard at sticking to a diet I eat throughout the week as I always feel better then.


  • john styles

    March 26, 2021 at 10:50 am

    I think food, drugs, alcohol, supplement’s 0r anything we take can effect us.  Anything we breath, radon, mold, bleach, chlorine, pollen, etc., can bother our breathing.  The challenge is finding out what has caused our lung disease. The medical community has done all they know how to do but they treat the symptom’s, everything the medical community has suggested is to treat the symptom’s and not the cause. The drugs available slow the scaring, laser and supplement’s reduce inflammation, oxygen treats the symptoms.  The food has not bothered me but I stopped my alcohol consumption and oxygen sats jumped while sitting from 86-88 to 92 to 96, walking I still have deterioration.  I guess the liver being next to the lungs nd the lungs being like a sponge may having something to do with the problems we face. If it is a problem it is called connective disease.



  • Jim Dawson

    June 25, 2021 at 10:01 am


    I can definitely say, most of the fast foods have a negative affect on how I feel afterwards. Especially anything fried. I do well with baked fish, sardines, apples and eggs.I will eat other foods but with little side affects, but anything fried is going to make me feel worse.

    Take care.

    Jim D.

  • Charlene Marshall

    June 25, 2021 at 9:45 pm

    I am the same as you @jim-dawson! Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂 I rarely eat fried food, but even when I get “healthy” take out options, I find the sodium is a lot for me now and I don’t tolerate it well. That might be what causes my breathing to worsen, or gluten? I’m not entirely sure. I’ve weaned myself off any type of processed food for the most part, and I really notice I feel better with that. Fish is one of my favourites!

  • Steve Dragoo

    June 29, 2021 at 8:53 pm

    Hi Charlene,

    I avoid most restaurant food now as it impacts me like a hangover if I eat too much.  I know many restaurant foods add a lot of salt, sugar, MSG, and a whole plethora of unknown chemicals.  Of course, what we typically buy at the grocery store was most likely treated to maximize harvest and preservation.

    Maybe there is a vegetarian restaurant close to you and you can ask what’s in the food. There is one here and the owners are in our church but I know they still use too much oil and salt sometimes.

    Stay well,


    • Charlene Marshall

      July 1, 2021 at 10:13 am

      Hi Steve!

      I definitely agree with your assessment of restaurant foods. I enjoy cooking and especially after my diagnosis, I really don’t eat out a lot and I’m cautious what foods I choose when I do eat out. I really notice the salt now! Last weekend, I went with a couple friends for Greek cuisine and it was an authentic Greek place but I woke up in the middle of the night so thirsty due to the salt and I noticed a difference in my shortness of breath the next day. Thankfully it didn’t last, but I can’t help but feel like it is connected to the inflammation likely caused by salty food. I try to avoid this wherever I can and cook my own meals! 🙂

  • Dinyar

    July 1, 2021 at 4:37 pm

    Hello Charlene and everyone, i just wanted to let all of you know that ALL fast foods and most restaurant foods have significant amount of MSG which causes fatigue, Headache and sleepiness. I get Migraine after eating Chick-fill-A. Found out they also put MSG which enhances the taste and causes many health problems in some people and addiction – now you know why the lines are so long at some of the fast food places. You can google to find out which restaurants use MSG.

    • Steve Dragoo

      July 1, 2021 at 7:33 pm


      Hi Dinyar,

      MSG is described as an excitotoxin that basically damages nerve cells and leads to their death especially in the brain.  I don’t know at what usage that happens but I do avoid it whenever I can.

      Yet another reason to fix our own food homegrown as much as possible… – Steve

  • DJ

    May 9, 2022 at 10:11 am

    Has anyone tried a flax seed oil regimen?  I have read a few studies that showed it helps dissolve scarring.

    • Christie Patient

      May 9, 2022 at 6:24 pm

      Would you mind sharing links to those studies? As far as I know, flax seed oil is only useful in topical applications for scarring. Can’t imagine how it would help internal scarring, unless in the GI tract.

    • Gloria M Wheeler

      July 27, 2022 at 1:15 am

      I cannot imagine taking flaxseed oil along with my ofev.  Flaxseed oil and seeds gave me diarrhea before my diagnosis. I find I need to eat protein and like many others need to take my medication mid meal. The pharmacist strongly recommended protein foods with the medication. He went into an explanation of why protein foods are best with it. It had something to do with effects of OFEV on digestive tract cells.  I find I can no longer eat salads.  I suspect we each need to find what works for us and that it will be different for each individual. I have not had any problems eating out, though I am very careful about what I order. I also never eat more than about 1/3 of a serving and bring the rest home. As long as I don’t over eat and avoid salads, I find eating out enjoyable and without detrimental effects on my breathing or sense of well-being. It has taken me almost 2 years to find what works for me. Hoping you find a routine that works for you and that you can continue to enjoy meals out on occasion

  • Dan

    July 28, 2023 at 10:05 am

    After this first year with PF, I’ve found that eating foods that reduce inflammation, is best for me.
    There are some tasty foods that help reduce inflammation like :
    1- watermelon
    2- blueberries
    3- pineapple
    4- avocado
    5- beets
    6- ginger
    7- shiitake mushrooms
    9- leafy greens ( salads )
    10- hemp seeds
    11- turmeric

    These foods are all good for you and reduce inflammation.

    When I eat smaller meals it also helps my breathing.

    I hope this helps you. Good luck and God Bless you !

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