Diet plays a pivotal role for those suffering from COPD. Every time someone who has COPD takes a breath, the muscles involved can use ten times more calories than in someone without the disease. Being overweight, however, does not compensate for this as being overweight does not mean you are properly nourished. Extra weight also demands extra oxygen and may make lungs work harder. Being underweight can also cause someone to feel tired and cause an increase in labored breathing.
So, what foods should COPD sufferers be incorporating into their diets to boost their quality of life?
- Fruits and Vegetables are a necessity. These foods are full of things like inflammation-fighting antioxidants, essential vitamins, and nutrients, and are high in fiber.
- Whole Grains. Choosing whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates helps to reduce your blood pressure and ultimately takes stress off your lungs. Some examples of whole grains are: flaxseed, whole wheat pasta, bran cereal, and quinoa.
- Protein. Consuming lean protein at least twice a day will help to maintain strong respiratory muscles. Protein produces antibodies which also aids in helping lungs to fight off infections. Fish, chicken, and eggs are all examples of lean protein.
- Go Nuts! Nuts are a high-calorie healthy food, which is ideal for COPD sufferers
- Calcium and Vitamin D. Bone health is also crucial when you have a COPD diagnosis. Lower fat milk, like 2%, offers the benefits of calcium, vitamin D, and even protein.
- Stay Hydrated. It is essential for those with COPD to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water helps to loosen phlegm and make it easier to cough up mucus. Healthy beverages and soups low in sodium are great options as well; just stay away from the soda.
It’s best to also mention what foods should be avoided…
- Salty foods. Salt causes people to retain water and can make breathing more difficult in those with COPD.
- Fried foods. These foods cause excess gas and bloating, which also makes it more difficult to breathe.
- Carbonated beverages. Not only do soft drinks and other carbonated beverages cause gas and bloating, but they can also lead to dehydration.
- Heartburn/Acid Reflux Triggers. COPD sufferers are more susceptible to developing acid reflux. For those who already have acid reflux, reflux can increase COPD symptoms. Eliminating things like chocolate, coffee, fried foods, and tomato sauce can be an immense help.
Implementing dietary improvements can have a vast impact on breathing in those with COPD. If you or someone you love is struggling to manage symptoms associated with COPD, a local research study may be an option. Florida Pulmonary Research Institute is seeking participants for studies to improve treatments for those with COPD. Qualified participants are seen at no cost by board-certified physicians and may receive access to new treatment options. Compensation is also available for those who participate.