The official blog of the Lung Institute.

4 Types of Foods to Avoid if You Have COPD


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 Institute offers a variety of cellular treatment options.

Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 or fill out the form to see if you qualify for cellular therapy, and find out what cellular therapy could mean for you.

Interested in our article on foods to avoid if you have COPD? Share your thoughts and comments below.


  1. Lung Institute

    3 months ago


    We are very sorry to hear about your medical condition. Unfortunately, we have not heard of this disease and cannot offer any advice.

    At the Lung Institute, we provide an alternative treatment option for people with lung disease such as COPD or Pulmonary Fibrosis. If you are interested to learn more about our options, please contact one of our patient coordinators at (855) 313-1149 for more information. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  2. Lung Institute

    3 months ago


    Thank you for your question. We are sorry to hear about your condition.

    Treatment cost varies depending on treatment type. We understand that each patient is unique and has individual needs. Because of that, we make sure to go over the patient’s history and our treatment options in detail with each patient. In order to determine if someone is a candidate for treatment, we need to gather more of their private medical history in a secure setting. The best way to do that is by giving us a call and speaking one-on-one with someone on our medical team over our secure phone line. We’re happy to answer your questions about cells, treatment options, candidacy and cost. So, feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  3. merlin

    3 months ago

    I have cpod or emphysema. A slight movement or walking i start huffing and a puffing really bad. I just went throught multiple heart and lung tests The doctor said that things were fine except I have AF… Would a cellular treatment help me? I’m a Canadian and the cost would be important. What would be the cost? I’m scheduled to see a Lung specialist in FEB. however, i feel tht i’m in bad shape. want help!

  4. Geri

    4 months ago

    Hi I have a rare lung disease. It is called MYCROBACTERIUM Xenopi. I have had 3 lung surgery’s already. My 3rd surgery was just in August 2017. MY disease is very rare and I having a very hard time finding a Dr who can help me with treatment of this disease. Every infectious disease Dr I call tells me they can not help me cause they don’t know much about the disease. They have heard of it but never treated anyone with it. So I am turned away. Everything I do read about the disease just basically tells me I am going to die. This disease does not show up in blood work. I did have a Dr here once who did try to treat me with a regimen of antibiotics. I was on meds for a year and a HALf BUT appearently the disease was still there. The Dr left the HOSPITAL and went to a VA hospital and she tells me she can not treat me any longer. I Pleaded with her to continue treating me cause she was the only one who knew of the disease. She agreed to continue treatment over the phone until she got her private practice within a month or two. She said she would contact me. She prescribed meds but never called me back. I had to stop the treatmentS cause there is no one to check liver and kidney function. These meds are Not to be played with. They can cause serious damage to vital organs. So I am now stuck. I need a DR who can help but there is no one. Do you know of this disease? Is there anyone who can help me? I live in Brooklyn. Can stem therepy help me? Also doES insurance cover it? At this point any information you have will help me. THANK you for your time.

  5. Lung Institute

    4 months ago


    We are very sorry to hear about your husband’s condition. We would suggest you visit your doctor or specialist to discuss his situation. Since he has COPD, our treatments may be able to offer relief and slow the progression of the disease.

    Our dedicated medical team has a wealth of knowledge about cellular therapy, treatment options, candidacy, cost and more. We’re happy to answer your questions, so feel free to give us a call at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  6. sandra

    4 months ago

    husband has suffered from COPD since having knee joint replacement 4/8/13 -has been on oxygen ever since. Had no breathing problems previously/quit smoking 43 years ago/exposed to agent orange in 1972/walked into surgery prep with no breathing issues/went to oxygen and icu hours after surgery/has been on oxygen ever since, what has happened??

  7. Lung Institute

    4 months ago


    Thank you for your comment. We wish you well and look forward to treating you.


    The Lung Institute

  8. Frances Buse

    4 months ago

    I wIll make Dr. Appointment in NashvLle.wiTh Lung Sp specialist .

  9. Lung Institute

    4 months ago


    Thank you for your comment and question. Because treatment costs vary based on treatment type, it’s best to speak with one of our well-qualified medical team to discuss treatment options. We’re happy to answer your questions about cellular therapy, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    We have had a number of people from Canada receive our treatments, though we do not have any clinics in Canada. We have clinics in Pittsburgh, Penn, Nashville, Tenn, Tampa, Fla, Dallas, Texas and Scottsdale (Phoenix, Ariz).

    Our dedicated medical team has a wealth of knowledge about cellular therapy, treatment options, candidacy, cost and more. We’re happy to answer your questions, so feel free to give us a call at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  10. Denise Watson

    4 months ago

    I have 40% lung function, I recently quit smoking just over a month ago. My question is how much does cell therapy cost and is it available to Canadians?

All claims made regarding the efficacy of Lung Institute's treatments as they pertain to pulmonary conditions are based solely on anecdotal support collected by Lung Institute. Individual conditions, treatment and outcomes may vary and are not necessarily indicative of future results. Testimonial participation is voluntary. Lung Institute does not pay for or script patient testimonials.

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