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The respiratory system - the lungs and airways together with the cardiovascular system is responsible for delivering oxygen from thelungs to every cell in the body and then for removing carbon dioxide and returning it to the lungs to be exhaled.

How we breathe
With each breath, a fresh supply of oxygen enters the bloodstream. It is the job of the red blood cells to transport the oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. The work of emptying and filling the lungs is done by respiratory muscles. The main respiratory muscles is the diaphragm a layer of muscle situated between the chest and the abdomen. As this contracts and relaxes, air is drawn in and forced out at regular intervals. Other muscles that contribute to respiration are located between the ribs, in the neck, and in the abdomen. Any disease that affects these muscles, the passage from the nose to the lungs, or the bones of the chest wall will interfere with normal respiratory function.

Respiratory disorders
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a result of progressive damage to the lungs, and is due mainly to smoking. Sleep apnoea is a condition in which breathing is interrupted, usually by the soft tissues of the throat relaxing and blocking the flow of air. It most commonly occurs in overweight people. When the airways is obstructed, breathing becomes laboured and can stop for at least ten seconds, leading to dangerously low levels of oxygen in the blood. In asthma, there is an intermittent narrowing of the airways, causing shortness of breath and wheezing. If asthma is severe, just trying to breath can cause exhausting.

What are respiratory disorders?
COPD, asthma, and sleep apnoea are three common respiratory disorders that you can avoid or help to treat by making sensible changes to your diet and lifestyle. COPD and asthma are disorders of the lungs and the lower airways (bronchiolitis), whereas sleep apnoea results from obstruction of the upper airway (usually the nasopharynx - the passage that leads from the back of the nasal cavity to the troath). In general, the changes that you need to make are sensible and include maintaining a healthy nutrient dense diet, cutting out or limiting the amount of alcohol that you drink, and giving up smoking or avoiding passive smoking.








People with COPD usually have one of two lung conditions

-chronic bronchitis or emphysema. In COPD, the airways

(bronchi and bronchioles) and tissues of the lungs become

damaged over time, causing a shortness of breath. Damage

to the lungs caused by COPD is ususally irreversible.


- eat nutrient dense food in order

to prevent or reverce weight loss

and undernutrition. which are both

common with this condition

- stop smoking

Sleep apnoea

Obstructive sleep apnoea is defined as recurrent episodes

of apnoea, which is the cessation of breathing during

sleep, caused by blockage of the upper airway.


- lose weight

- avoid alcohol

- stop smoking


Asthma a form of chronic lung disease caused by

inflammation and swelling of the lining of the airways in

the lungs. It is associated with exposure to allergens

(substnaces that trigger an allergic reaction).

- maintain a healthy diet

- avoid foods that trigger attacks

- exercise to improve your stamina

- stop smoking

Dietary and lifestyle changes
Some dietary changes can help relive these disorders. Since COPD often leads to weight loss, making sure you have a nutrient dense diet will help. Conversely, if you have sleep apnoea you may be overweight, and losing a little weight may successfully treat the disorder. If you have asthma and know of a particular food that triggers an attack, make sure you avoid that food. Lifestyle changes are also very important. Giving up smoking and increasing your leval of exercise will benefit all respiratory disease. You should consult your doctor, however, before embarking on an exercise programme.

Who is most at risk for respiratory disorders?
Diet and lifestyle Excess body fat, especially if it is around the neck, can cause sleep apnoea, which is also more common in people who are overweight, who smoke, and who drink too much alcohol. COPD is almost always due to smoking in addition, smoking can trigger asthma in some people.

Age Asthma occurs more commonly in children, while COPD is more common in people over the age of 40.

Gender COPD is twice as common in men than women, whereas adult onset asthma is more common in women.

Family history Asthma has been found to run in families.

Other risk factors Children with eczema or other allergies are at greater risk of developing asthma. Dust noxious gases and other irritants can cause COPD and trigger asthma.

A morning cough and shortness of breath are two early signs of chronic bronchitis and emphysema, which together are known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Since smoking cigarettes greatly increases your risk of emphysema, it is important to take the symptoms seriously you should avoid people who smoke and kick the habit if you smoke and kick the habit if you smoke. Giving up smoking will produce quite dramatic effects in improving your lung function.

Nutritional advice

Many people with COPD do not eat enough. Weight loss is very common and can increase breathing difficulties. It is therefore veryvegeterian-saladimportant that people with COPD eat a balanced diet and take in enough calories to avoid under nutrition. Recent studies suggest that foods high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids, such as oily fish, may be helpful in protecting against COPD. Taking a multivitamin supplement will also help you get the right nutrients.

Maintain adequate calories
If you are underweight and trying to regain your strength, gradually increase the amount you eat with small, frequent, nutrient dense meals that are easy to consume. Other ideal that can help include:

- Avoid foods that cause uncomfortable wind or bloating
- Increase your intake of fibre rich foods to avoid constipation
- Eat three small meals each day plus between meal snacks to get the calories you need. Smaller meals may help you breathe more easily and may be less tiring to eat than large meals.
- Select soft foods that are easy to chow
- Time your main meal for when you have the most energy and feel you best (often in the morning), and rest before and after mealtimes.
- For easy preparation, choose meals that can be cooked in the microwave, such as healthy ready meals (check the labels for salt and saturated fat levels).
- Make sure you drink enough fluids at least eight glasses of water or other caffeine free drinks per day to keep your body hydrated.

High calorie meals to counteract weight loss in COPD
If your condition has led to weight loss and you are trying to gain weight, it does not mean that you should simply eat fatty foods, such as cheese, mayonnaise, and butter, although you can eat them in moderation. High calorie snacks should be as healthy as possible and packed with nutrients, especially vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Bearing in mind the benefits of whole grains and the need to moderate saturated fat try:

- Tuna, chicken, or salmon and salad on wholemeal bread
- Guacamole with raw vegetables or baked tortilla chis
- Two egg omelette with cheese and ham or tomato
- Full fat cheese, cream cheese, ham and salad, or peanut butter stuffed in pitta bread pockets
- Whole grain cereals with whole milk
- Falafel in pitta bread with salad, red peppers, and hummus
- Fruits with full fat yogurt or Greek yogurt
- Nuts, such as almonds or brazils, or home made trail mix
- A glass of whole (full-fat) milk, or a mug of cocoa made with whole milk

Asthma and nutrition
People with asthma generally have the same nutritional needs and food considerations as anyone else, but if you have asthma it is important to make a healthy diet a regular part of your life. Asthma can place additional stress on your body especially if you take oral corticosteroids, which can deplete your body of vitamins and minerals.

Foods that trigger asthma
Asthmatics are usually affected by at most two or three foods: it is a common misconception that people are sensitive to a wide variety of foods. The factors that set off and exacerbate asthma symptoms are called "triggers". Identifying and avoiding asthma triggers are essential in preventing flare-up. The most common trigger foods are milk, yogurt, and other dairy products, eggs, prawns, fish, citrus fruits, soy, and wheat. These foods are likely to trigger asthma in children than in adults, and fortunately most children outgrow such allergies. Check food labels because additives found in many canned and processed foods, such as tartrazine, sulphur, benzoic acid, and mono-sodium glutamate, can trigger asthma. If you can identify the specific food or the additive that trigger your asthma, you should simply avoid it.

Eat a healthy diet
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, pulses, wholemeal bread, and whole grain cereals, moderate amounts of law fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, and poultry, and small amounts of fats, oils and sugar. A healthy diet and regular exercise go a long way towards helping improve your well being. Certain foods and additives, however, have been found to trigger or exacerbate asthma.

Tips for treating sleep apnoea
Obesity contributes to the development of sleep apnoea and a weight loss of as little as 4.5kg can dramatically improve symptoms. If you need to loss weight because of sleep apnoea, you should consult a state registered dietitian for nutritional counselling. However, you may find the following suggestions useful as well:

- If you are hungry and have to snack, have fresh fruit or cut up vegetables ready in refrigerator. use low calorie dressings for dipping
- Stay out of the kitchen after dinner. eating late at night adds extra calories
- Be aware of your quantities and portion sizes both at home and when eating out, skip the starter or share one, and have bread without butter. If you want a dessert, you could share it and skip the wine
- If you are tempted by snacks and junk food around the house, don't buy or bring those foods into your house. If you have lots of snack foods for the children, consider them "off limit"
- Regular exercise, such as walking swimming, or cycling, will give you more energy and help you sleep better
- Alcohol may promote throat closure during sleep and should be avoided

In addition to losing weight, there are important lifestyle factors that can help improve your condition.

  • Avoid smoking
  • Treat allergies, cold, or sinus problems. Avoid using antihistamines or tranquillizers.
  • Do not go to sleep immediately after eating, take a walk instead.
  • Try to sleep exclusively on your site or with the head of the bed elevated.


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