October was “Healthy Lung Month”. Lungs, for many people are associated with full deep breaths, feeling good and getting energy from respiration. However, for people who have lung conditions, breathing can be a complex or delicate activity. This article looks at the ways a person can benefit from eating protein for pulmonary rehab.
Why Pulmonary Rehab?
Lung conditions that may require someone to undertake pulmonary rehab include:
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- pulmonary hypertension
- cystic fibrosis
- severe scoliosis
- conditions that limit lung functioning
- as preparation before lung surgery
- as part of recovery following lung surgery
What is Pulmonary Rehab?
Pulmonary rehab combines training in exercising and breathing techniques, and education about the relevant condition.
The National Lung, Heart and Blood Institute (NIH) provides useful information on the topic of pulmonary rehab.
COPD.net lists ten things that a person can gain from Pulmonary Rehab.
Let’s look at how protein helps seniors in general and protein for pulmonary rehab.
What is the Role of Protein in the Body Generally?
Protein helps seniors in many ways. Protein is commonly eaten in the form of animal products, pulses and nuts. These are some of the important jobs of protein:
- maintains muscle mass
- retains muscle strength
- helps with balance
- gives a feeling of satiety after the meal
- good for weight control – reduces the desire to keep eating
Can Protein Help in Lung Repair?
The answer is “Yes”, but it is not the kind of protein you are thinking of!
There has been a lot of research on the contribution of a special type of proteins called Claudins found in humans. On a biomedical level (that is beyond the scope of this article!) the protein is known as the CLDN18 gene. Research has looked into destructive effects a lack of this particular type of protein. Where there is a lack of protein Claudin 18.1, there are also issues with the airways.
When research finds a way to supply the protein to patients, there may be a way to harness that special protein for pulmonary rehab.
Can Protein Help Protect the Lungs against Cigarette smoke?
The American Lung Association funds research for COPD. Dr. Fabienne Gally is researching how protein can give a boost to the immune system. She is researching how it helps against cigarette smoke. The idea that a specific protein can help with breathing problems is still in its elementary stages. The newest research is still discussing this protein in terms of “tight junction strands”.
That does not mean much to us. We want to know about proteins that are found in the refrigerator, not in the lab, that can help with lung protection and recovery!
Umm, Is There Any Edible Protein for Pulmonary Rehab?
There are lists of foods that promote lung health. The list from Power Breath includes:
- fatty fish
which are all good sources of protein.
The COPD diet should include a lot of protein rich foods and also complex carbohydrates such as:
- pulses such as peas, lentils and beans
- quinoa, oats and barley.
Other sources recommend consuming:
- colorful fruit and vegetables.
This all makes logical sense.
Protein is important for the body’s ability to generate new cells.
Complex carbohydrates help the digestion system function better. That will allow the body to dedicate more energy to the lung recovery.
The colorful fruit and vegetables will give the body essential nutrients.
Protein in the Pulmonary Rehab Journey
That was an interesting journey in the world of regular protein and the world of proteins at cell-level. We see that there are: (1) accepted and (2) developing practices in the ways that people can use protein for pulmonary rehab!
That means there are things people can do now to best their pulmonary rehab experience. That also means that there is hope for the future for new types of protein for pulmonary rehab.