The official blog of the Lung Institute.
When you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, mealtime can be tough. When you’re already struggling to catch your breath, just the very thought of shoving food into your mouth might not sound appealing. To make eating a more enjoyable experience, try out a few of the following:
- Eat smaller meals
- Take smaller bites
- Eat food that tastes good
- Eat at the time of day that you have the most energy
- Eat after using supplemental oxygen
In addition to setting yourself up for success by embracing a few of the strategies mentioned above, the foods that you choose can help to slowly improve your quality of life. Think about food as nutrition that fuels your body. When you choose foods that nourish your body, you provide your body with fuel that helps it to run more efficiently, reducing stress on your organs. Additionally, choosing the right foods helps you to maintain a healthy body weight, which places less stress on your body.
COPD Superfoods to Add to Your Diet
Fatty Fish & Other Proteins
Did you know that many people with COPD actually have a protein deficiency? When your body is deficient in protein, it can cause muscle loss. Because of this, it is important to eat lean protein with every meal. Foods such as fish, chicken, eggs, nut butters and low-fat dairy are all excellent sources of lean protein. You can also make smoothies with protein powder.
Fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, tuna, mackerel or sardines, are particularly good choices because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. COPD is characterized, in part, by chronic inflammation, and omega-3s work to fight inflammation in the body. In fact, omega-3s may even work to help improve COPD symptoms.
Fresh, Colorful Fruits & Vegetables
When choosing fruits and vegetables to eat, a good rule of thumb is to choose those that are brightly colored. Why? Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are full of phytochemicals, which help reduce cell damage in your body.
Try these healthy vegetables*:
- Cooked tomatoes
- Leafy greens
- Sweet potatoes
- Winter squash
- Brussels sprouts
*Please note that some vegetables, such as leafy greens, are not good to eat if you’re on blood thinners. Additionally, some vegetables, such as broccoli, can cause gas and bloating, which could cause breathing flare-ups. If you’re not sure about what’s right for you, consult with your physician before making any dietary changes.
Fruits that are high in antioxidants are also a great addition to your diet. One study has even suggested that increasing the amount of fruit that you consume in a day by 100 grams can reduce the COPD mortality risk by 24 percent.
Try these healthy fruits:
- Citrus fruits
Beans are high in fiber, and also contain zinc. Some research suggests that zinc might help to improve COPD symptoms. The daily recommended dose of zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. Peas and other legumes are also great sources of fiber and zinc. Additionally, beans tend to be relatively inexpensive, making them a budget-friendly choice.
When eating beans, be mindful of beans that might cause bloating or gassiness, which might cause difficulty breathing.
Many people with COPD have a hard time consuming enough calories, which can result in poor nutrition. High-calorie foods, such as nuts or nut butters, can help you increase your daily calorie intake, and are good sources of protein. Additionally, nuts are small, making them a great snack if you’re on the go.
If you would like to eat nut butters, focus on natural peanut butter that does not contain added sugar or almond butter, which tends to be lower in sugar and calories than peanut butter.
Avoid foods like bread, which contain refined carbohydrates, and instead opt for whole grain foods, such as quinoa, bulgur or millet. Diets that are high in carbohydrates can cause an increase in carbohydrate production, which is why it’s important to avoid refined carbohydrates, which place more stress on your lungs. Whole grains, on the other hand, provide nutrition and energy for the body.
Eating well can help to reduce the severity of symptom flare ups for people with COPD. Stem cell therapy is another way that you may be able to improve your quality of life with COPD. To learn more, contact us today by calling (800) 729-3065.