Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can make breathing difficult, but focusing on eating healthy foods can make all the difference. Improving your eating habits can help you feel better and manage your symptoms.
Improving your nutrition won’t cure COPD, but it does offer benefits like fighting infections that sometimes lead to hospitalization. Plus, improving your nutritional health can also help you feel better in general.
Eating better to manage COPD doesn’t have to be complicated or tedious. You can find simple ways to improve your diet and eat a variety of foods that you enjoy.
You can eat healthier when you plan what you eat and balance your meals. With the right information, you can make healthy changes that help you improve your condition and feel better.
The importance of nutrition in COPD
COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a group of diseases that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. This makes breathing difficult because it blocks the airways, but good nutrition can help.
When you eat, your metabolism turns food into oxygen, energy and carbon dioxide. You breathe out the waste product or carbon dioxide and use the energy in normal bodily processes and daily tasks.
The nutritional value of the foods you eat determines how much energy you get and how much carbon dioxide is removed. If you don’t have enough energy or don’t eat nutritious food, you won’t have the energy to get rid of carbon dioxide. When this happens and too much waste accumulates, you may feel weak.
Carbohydrates produce the most carbon dioxide for the amount of oxygen they use, and fats produce the least. People with COPD often experience improvements in breathing when they eat fewer carbohydrates and increase healthy fats.
1 – Complex Carbohydrates
Limiting carbohydrate intake is beneficial for COPD, but you can consume some complex carbohydrates. They are usually high in fiber, which improves digestive system function and blood sugar control. Complex carbohydrates include:
- whole grain bread or pasta
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- potatoes with skin
2 – Omega-3 fatty acids
Experts suggest that consuming omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce lung inflammation and reduce COPD symptoms. The benefits are likely due to the anti-inflammatory properties that help open up the airways. The search shows that diets rich in this nutrient make you less likely to have a chronic cough and wheezing.
Omega-3 fatty acids also contain high levels of calories, making them beneficial for those who have trouble eating enough. You can consume these essential fats in:
- Atlantic mackerel
- canned light tuna
- green leafy vegetables
- flax seed
- canola oil
3 – Foods Rich in Fiber
Fiber is essential because it helps food move through the digestive tract. It can help you avoid constipation or bloating, both of which make breathing difficult with COPD. A high-fiber diet also helps lower cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.
If you need to increase your fiber intake, consider the following:
- legumes, including beans, peas, and lentils
- whole grains or pasta
- whole grain bread
- brown rice
- nuts or seeds
4 – Protein-rich foods
COPD can make eating difficult, causing loss of weight and muscle mass. Consume more protein can help you keep your breathing muscles stronger and reach your suggested caloric intake. Skipping essential protein intake can make your breathing problems worse because it weakens your breathing muscles.
When you want to increase your protein intake, consider the following:
- dried beans
5 – Moisturizing Foods
Staying hydrated helps your organs function properly. It also thins the mucus in the airways, which is essential for people with COPD as they often have overproduction of phlegm. You can hydrate yourself with healthy, caffeine-free fluids, fruits and vegetables.
Some of the most popular hydrating foods include:
6 – Potassium
Potassium improves lung function and a deficiency can cause breathing problems. Also, some people with COPD take diuretics and need to increase their potassium intake. If you need to consume more potassium, consider consuming the following:
- dark green leafy vegetables
7 – Foods with Vitamin D
Experts say that many people with COPD are vitamin D deficient. This problem can occur because many COPD patients take steroids that disrupt vitamin D absorption. Also, if your shortness of breath makes you tired, you may spend less time outdoors absorbing vitamin D naturally .
If you don’t get enough vitamin D, you may experience osteoporosis. It is a common disease in people with COPD, so it is essential to increase your vitamin D intake.
Increasing your vitamin D intake may decrease COPD flare-ups. Taking supplements can ensure you get the suggested amount, but talk to your doctor before trying them. Dietary sources of vitamin D include the following:
- light tuna
- canned sardines
- egg yolks
- raw mushrooms
- Products fortified with vitamin D, including orange juice, milk and yogurt
- almond milk
8 – Add monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats if you have COPD
These fats are cholesterol-free and come from plant sources such as canola, safflower and corn oil. They usually become liquid at room temperature, indicating a healthy option to add to your diet. Some of the best monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats include:
- nuts and seeds
- coconut oil or coconut
- olives and olive oil
- fatty fish
Four Things to Avoid to Cure COPD
Now that you know what to eat to improve your COPD, it’s time to learn what to avoid.
1 – Sodium
Sodium can cause bloating and increase blood pressure as it leads to water retention. This will cause more shortness of breath and your symptoms may get worse. Some ideas to avoid this include:
- taking the salt off your table
- Using natural herbs to flavor your food
- read ingredient labels to avoid excess sodium
- do not add salt to your cooking, even when the recipe calls for it.
2 – Not drinking enough fluids
Drinking water is essential to your well-being, and it’s even more important for someone with COPD. It can thin the mucus so that you can get rid of it more easily.
Consider filling a pitcher in the morning to consume later in the day. Refill your water glass from the pitcher so you know you’re meeting your hydration goals.
3 – Foods that cause gas or bloating
If you have COPD, it’s essential to avoid foods that cause gas and bloating. This can make you uncomfortable and make your symptoms worse. Some of the things that commonly cause swelling include:
- fried or fatty foods
- carbonated drinks
- highly seasoned foods
- Brussels sprouts
4 – Alcohol and Caffeine
Alcohol can interfere with necessary medications and does not add nutritional value to your diet. It can also get in the way of breathing and make it difficult to cough up mucus. Caffeine can also interfere with medications, so it’s best to avoid it unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Final Thoughts on Foods to Eat and Things to Avoid to Cure COPD
Being aware of what you eat can help cure COPD or alleviate its symptoms. Your nutrition plays a big role in how you feel and how your body works.
Consider using these tips to help you plan your meals and snacks to manage your symptoms and feel better. Remember that you must consume a variety of foods to meet your nutritional goals. You can feel better about COPD by learning what to eat and what to avoid.
By Sarah Barckley. Article in English