If you’ve recently been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chances are you’ve been told that you need to improve your eating habits. Your doctor may even have referred you to a registered dietitian to create a personal diet plan.A healthy diet won’t cure COPD but it can help your body fight off infections, including chest infections that may lead to hospitalization. Maintaining good nutrition on top of dealing with this condition doesn’t have to be difficult. Just follow these healthy diet tips.
Fill up on Fruits and Vegetables
Whether flash-frozen or fresh, fruits and vegetables are a must for a healthy diet for COPD, especially tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers. These high-fiber foods also provide you with essential nutrients, including vitamin A (which has been linked to improved COPD symptoms), minerals, and inflammation-fighting antioxidants. Even better, fruitslike apples, oranges, and bananas rarely requires any exhausting prep work. If your energy is limited, buy vegetables that are precut and easy to steam, or vegetables that simply have to be defrosted and reheated.
Eating plenty of protein
Protein plays a key role in the health of muscles, bones, blood, and immunity. Because lung infections are more common in people with COPD, protein is an important component of the diet. Good sources of protein include fish, eggs, poultry, dairy, soy, nuts, legumes, and moderate amounts of red meat.
Too much sodium can increase blood pressure and make shortness of breath worse in people with COPD. It can also cause the body to retain more fluids, which can be a common problem in people with COPD.
Avoiding simple carbohydrates
These are in foods such as sugary snacks, white bread, pasta, and many processed foods, which usually offer little to no fiber and nutrients. These types of food are broken down quickly in the body, which results in the production of more carbon dioxide. This is dangerous for a person with COPD, because they may not be able to take in enough oxygen to get rid of the excess carbon dioxide.
Choosing whole grains and complex carbohydrates
People with COPD should try to eat whole grain pasta and bread, beans, peas, fruits, and vegetables, which will minimize the amount of carbon dioxide that is produced by food.
Avoiding foods that cause gas
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts and foods with sulfites such as deli meats may need to be avoided if they cause indigestion or bloating.
Drinking plenty of water: Staying hydrated can help thin and loosen mucus in the lungs and airways. Water, caffeine-free tea, milks, and fruit-infused water are generally good choices. Carbonated soda can cause bloating and offers little to no nutritional value and should therefore be avoided.
Size and frequency of meals
Eating three large meals a day can make COPD symptoms feel worse. A large meal takes more energy and oxygen to digest. This means the body has less oxygen for other functions. Large meals may also cause bloating and indigestion, which can make shortness of breath feel worse.Six small meals a day can help keep energy levels stable, and will generally be easier to digest. It can also feel less overwhelming and stressful to sit down and eat smaller portions when breathing can be difficult.
The food a person consumes can affect all aspects of their health, including their breathing. Many foods can make up a healthful diet, but no one food will improve COPD symptoms. However, focusing on healthful foods and following a dietitian's advice can help people with COPD feel better and lead more active lives.