Preventing Weight Loss

Losing weight is a common problem with NTM

So why does this happen

We ask a lot of our body to fight the infection and move the air through our impaired airways. The energy needed to do this can be considered to be like running a marathon for 24 hours per day, every day. It is not surprising that people with NTM infections lose weight if they do not eat sufficient healthy food to compensate. When you lose weight and most of the fat in your body has been used, the body will start to convert your muscles to satisfy your bodies needs. If you let this unattended, it will lead to serious problems.


Does the food you consume affect your breathing ?.

When you are short of breath, most often it is due to mucus in your airway obstructing the free flow of air to where (aveoli ) oxygen is absorbed into the blood and carbon dioxide removed from the blood and exhaled. The activity of the NTM bacteria does not affect the way oxygen and carbon dioxide move in and out of the blood.

However, you can also be short of breath due to excess carbon dioxide in your blood.

Here diet plays a role. If you use carbohydrates to get more energy, you will put more carbon dioxide in your blood to be removed. If you use fat to do the same, you will not.

The American Lung Association says it this way

How Does Food Relate to Breathing?

 The right mix of nutrients in your diet can help you breathe easier.

The process of changing food to fuel in the body is called metabolism. Oxygen and food are the raw materials of the process, and energy and carbon dioxide are the finished products. Carbon dioxide is a waste product and is exhaled.

Metabolism of carbohydrates produces the most carbon dioxide for the amount of oxygen used; metabolism of fat produces the least. For some people with COPD, eating a diet with less carbohydrates and more fat helps them to breathe easier.

This is supported by some tests that have been conducted to discover the difference in the distance walked over 6 minutes if energy is supplied from carbohydrate or fat



What to do

Normal dietitians seldom know about how your diet can affect your breathing or propose the best way forward to help you. We strongly urge you to work with your GP to find a dietitian with experience helping people with chronic lung diseases. Most public hospitals do have dietitians with this experience. Get a referral from your GP for an appointment soon. Even if you are not losing weight, you should be aware of what to do to prevent weight loss from a qualified experienced dietitian.

If you are losing weight, the dietitian is likely to recommend you start consuming some supplements high in protein and unsaturated fat.

In addition to the experience often found in public hospitals, the supplements can be bought from a public hospital for a discounted price. It seems the cost of the supplements vary from State to State and Hospital to Hospital. If you have lost a lot of weight, the quantity of supplements is likely to be large. To purchase these supplements at retail prices would not be affordable for many of us.

We urge you, even if you have not lost weight to make an appointment with an experienced dietitian in a public hospital soon