4 Types of Foods to Avoid if You Have COPD

by | Dec 19, 2017 | COPD, Diet and Nutrition, In the Home, Lifestyle, Tips

Not too long ago, we shared a post about how to start a healthy diet if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

However, while it’s important you know which foods can help you better manage your COPD, it’s equally important that you know which ones to avoid because they may actually make it worse.

What types of foods are on the “you’d probably be better off without them” list? There are four.

Foods High in Sodium

Water retention is a common symptom associated with COPD and one that research has found makes it harder for patients to get rid of excess water as they normally should.

Do you know what else contributes to water retention? Taking in too much sodium.

You’ve likely already experienced this if you’ve ever eaten a salty meal and, the next morning, noticed it was difficult to remove your rings or that you gained a few pounds when you stepped on the scale.

These types of things happen because the higher levels of sodium prompted your body to hold on to water.

To help combat this, stay away from foods that tend to be high in this particular nutrient as much as possible.

This includes canned foods and frozen foods as both typically use salt to preserve them longer term.

Then there are the foods that are high in sodium that you may not even realize. This includes most sauces and condiments, but also other food options that don’t even taste salty, like:

  • Cottage cheese
  • Cereal
  • Baked goods
  • Hot chocolate

Dairy Products

Another type of food that can make COPD sufferers feel worse is dairy. This is because dairy foods help stimulate the creation of mucus, making it harder to breathe.

Foods within the dairy category include milk, cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, ice cream, and yogurt.

Dairy is also used in a lot of baked goods, like puddings, custards, and cakes. Though it may be in smaller proportions in these types of items, it can potentially have the same impact.


The reason sugar is on the list is because it has been linked with increased inflammation. As the Cleveland Clinic explains, “inflammation is the body’s immune response to toxins as it works to ‘purify’ itself.

Over time, it also can trigger chronic diseases, such as heart disease and strokes, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and even depression.”

Most people realize that sugar can be found in soft drinks, desserts, and candy, but, like sodium, it can also be found in foods that you wouldn’t associate with this ingredient.

In fact, non-sweet foods like spaghetti sauce, frozen breakfast sandwiches, and alcohol all tend to have higher sugar content.

Not that you have to avoid all of these items, but knowing that sugar intake matters helps serve as a reminder to check food labels to make sure you’re not taking in too much.

Unnatural Food Substances

The final type of food that can make your COPD worse is any food that contains unnatural food substances like preservatives, additives and dyes.

Though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) explains that these are often added to our foods to increase safety, maintain nutritional value or to make the foods taste and look better, research has shown they can have negative effects as well.

For instance, one piece of research published in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology found that approximately five percent of asthmatics have a negative pulmonary reaction to sulfites because their airways are “particularly sensitive to the effects of sulfur dioxide.”

Avoiding these types of substances as much as possible can help reduce these negative effects.

While you likely can’t avoid all of these food items, at least not all of the time, being aware that they can potentially make your COPD worse is the first step to making healthier food choices.

If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic disease like COPD, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis or other symptoms of lung disease, the Lung Health Institute offers a variety of cellular treatment options.

Contact us today at 888-745-6697 or fill out the form to see if you qualify for cellular therapy, and find out what cellular therapy could mean for you.

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