A Diet for Patients With Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs that is usually caused by bacteria but can also be caused by viruses or fungi. It can result in difficulty breathing, coughing and severe chest pain, which can make it difficult for you to eat and may result in you losing weight. In addition, because of the difficulty breathing, your body spends more energy breathing to get enough oxygen. This, too, can cause you to lose weight rapidly. You need to maintain an adequate calorie intake, as well as nutrient intake, so your nutritional status doesn't deteriorate and you can prevent any possible complications associated with malnutrition.

A Diet for Patients With Pneumonia (Image: LanaSweet/iStock/GettyImages)

Diet and Pneumonia

Pneumonia can be an extremely debilitating condition. The difficulty breathing causes your body to increase the amount of energy it expends, accelerating your metabolism. In addition, feeling ill usually has an impact on appetite. Both of these things can cause you to lose weight and may result in malnutrition. Additionally, once you have started treatment, your body will need even more nutrients to repair the damaged tissue. Being malnourished can negatively affect your recovery time, and result in other complications. This is why an adequate diet, rich in calories, protein and micronutrients is essential when you have pneumonia or are recovering from it.

Adding Calories: Minimize Weight Loss

You can do several things help you make sure you are getting enough calories each day. Eating five times a day instead of two or three can help you get more calories in throughout the day. You can also try to drink beverages that are calorie-rich, such as milkshakes or juices instead of water. Adding peanut butter or ice-cream to your fruits and cream cheese, butter or olive oil to your vegetables adds calories. If you feel like you are doing everything you can and you are still losing weight, talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for a calorie supplement, which you can take between meals to maximize your energy intake.

Getting Enough Protein

An adequate protein intake is essential for recovery. Your body will be building new tissue and fixing damaged tissue, which will require not only energy, but the building blocks to do so, which come from protein. Protein-rich foods can come from both animal and plant sources. Animal sources of protein include red meat, pork, poultry or fish. Plant-based protein comes from nuts and seeds, and beans, soybeans or tofu. Eat the protein in your meals first, in case you feel full quickly. You may also want to think about drinking a protein shake to further supplement your meals. Buy protein shakes from the pharmacy or a supplement store.

Ensuring Adequate Nutrients

It is important for you to get as many vitamins and minerals as you can to strengthen your immune system and avoid malnutrition. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, they are not very calorically dense. You can alter this, though, by adding some sort of fat source to increase the calories. Grains also offer an array of vitamins and minerals and are sometimes fortified with additional nutrients. Nuts and seeds also provide you with an array of nutrients, and they are also energy-dense. Even so, ask your doctor if a multivitamin would help.

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