Pneumonia is an inflammatory disease of the lungs, which affects the pulmonary alveoli (anatomical structures responsible for gas exchange).
Pneumonia is usually caused by viral or bacterial infections (especially Streptococcus pneumoniae); less commonly it is caused by other microorganisms, some drugs or other conditions.
The signs and symptoms of pneumonia include: cough, chest pain, fever, and difficulty breathing.
Treatment of pneumonia is chosen based on the causative agent recognized with the diagnosis. In case of bacterial infection, the elite therapy is of the antibiotic type.
The mortality of pneumonia was almost nullified with the invention of the specific vaccine; however, when it occurs as a secondary complication or comorbidity, it is still a disease capable of causing death in the elderly.
Food Causes of Pneumonia
There is food-borne pneumonia, or “aspiration pneumonia”.
Contrary to what happens for most of the infectious diseases that include diet as a risk factor, in aspiration pneumonia food does NOT contain a greater pathogenic load than normal; on the contrary, in some cases, aspiration pneumonia does NOT involve lung tissue contamination.
In these very particular forms of pneumonia, also called "aspiration", the diet is responsible for the entry of food or gastric material into the bronchial tree (food or stomach contents).
Depending on the composition of the sucked material, they can develop:
- Infectious pneumonia
- Chemical or caustic pneumonia
- Chemical or caustic pneumonia with infectious overlap.
Diet can provoke pneumonia in the following cases:
- Acid regurgitation in sleep or under sedation conditions (e.g. anesthesia, collapse from alcoholism or drug use, etc.)
- Complications of enteral nutrition, or with the nasogastric tube
- Severe dysphagia, caused by achalasia (a hypermotility disease of the esophagus of a neurological type)
- Gastroesophageal reflux and nocturnal regurgitation (hypomotility disease of the esophagus).
The therapy for aspiration pneumonia is first of all dedicated to avoiding the passage of food or gastric material into the pulmonary tree.
While regurgitation from sedation or incorrect tube placement are operator-dependent complications, food aspiration caused by dysphagia can be avoided by:
- Drug therapy (calcium channel blockers) for achalasia
- Drug therapy for gastroesophageal reflux
- The diet for gastroesophageal reflux.
Diet for Pneumonia
In the case of common pneumonia, weight loss often occurs due to infection, then fever, dehydration and lack of appetite.
First of all, it is essential that the diet for pneumonia is pleasant and easily digestible, so that it can counteract the patient's lack of appetite.
In the presence of fever and sweating, especially if food intake is compromised, the diet for pneumonia must provide abundant quantities of water (both in food and in drinks).
As for the diet intended for flu or cold patients, even the one for pneumonia should emphasize the supply of certain nutrients: among these: vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, isoflavones, probiotics and prebiotics. Let's see them one at a time.
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): it is the vitamin most involved in the fight against infections. It is a powerful antioxidant and, in the defensive mechanism, it intervenes positively especially against viral contagion.
Foods rich in ascorbic acid are vegetable in nature, especially vegetables and fruits: chilli, pepper, parsley, citrus fruits, kiwi, apples, lettuce, broccoli, pumpkin etc.
NB. Vitamin C is thermolabile, which is why it is degraded with cooking.
- Vitamin D (calciferol): also involved in the fight against infectious diseases (viral, bacterial and fungal).
Its deficiency is correlated with a greater susceptibility to respiratory tract infections. This molecule is produced mainly in the skin, in the presence of UV rays; among foods, vitamin D is most present in fish products and eggs.
- Zinc: In some types of viral infections, zinc supplementation has been shown to help reduce overall illness time and symptom severity. This mineral is naturally present in foods of animal origin, especially: oysters, liver, milk and meats.
- Isoflavones: plant antioxidants typical of soy, vegetables and fruits. They fight the action of free radicals and support the immune system against certain infections (especially viral).
- Probiotics and prebiotics: there is a positive correlation between the trophism of the intestinal bacterial flora and the functioning of the immune system. For this reason, it is advisable to increase the nutritional share of probiotics (physiological bacterial flora) and prebiotics (nourishment for the physiological bacterial flora). From a practical point of view, it is necessary to: reduce refined sugars, reduce hydrogenated fats, increase fiber and whole foods, and use fermented foods (rich in lactobacilli, bifidobacteria and eubacteria).
The best known fermented foods are: yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, kimchi, miso, gherkins, sauerkraut, diet foods and supplements / medications.
Other articles on 'Pneumonia Diet'
- Pneumonia - Medicines for the treatment of pneumonia
- Pneumonia: care and treatment