The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Avoid These Foods with Lung Disease
Eating healthy can be difficult. However, when people suffer from illnesses adversely affected by diet, finding something nutritious that’s “allowed” can be discouraging. For people with chronic lung diseases, certain foods can trigger symptom flare-ups, so before reaching for whatever looks tasty, you might want to avoid these foods with lung disease.
Most cured meats such as bacon, cold cuts, ham, and hotdogs contain additives called nitrates. Companies often add nitrates for color or to extend shelf life. A study from European Respiratory Journal suggests that added nitrates increase the risk for COPD related hospital re-admissions.
While a small pinch of salt cooked in a dish may be fine, a salt-heavy diet can be a problem. Salt can make people retain water, and excess water can cause breathing problems. Instead of using salt or a salt substitute, try herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of food.
For people with lung disease, dairy products can worsen symptoms. While milk is nutritious and filled with calcium, it contains casomorphin, a “breakdown product of milk,” which has been known to increase mucus in the intestines. During flare-ups, people with lung disease often experience an increase in mucus. Though the relationship may not be clear, “scientists have stimulated mucus production from respiratory cells by adding casomorphin to them in the laboratory.”
Gas and bloating are uncomfortable, and these symptoms can make breathing difficult for people with lung disease. Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, radishes and cauliflower, are filled with nutrients and fiber, but if they give you extra gas, try limiting them.
Like cruciferous vegetables, fried foods cause can cause bloating and discomfort by pushing on the diaphragm, making it difficult and uncomfortable to breathe. Excessive fried food over time can cause weight gain, which increases pressure on the lungs. Fried foods are full of unhealthy fats that raise bad cholesterol levels and increase the risk for heart disease. Next time those French fries, fried chicken or onion rings are calling, hang up and try a healthy alternative.
Unsurprisingly, carbonated beverages made our list. Filled with sugar, empty calories and lots of carbonation, they contribute to weight gain and increased bloating. Carbonated beverages such as sodas, beer, sparkling wine or sparkling cider also contribute to dehydration. So, when you’re thirsty, hydrate with water.
Acidic Foods and Drinks
There is a ring of muscle forming a valve at the end of the esophagus. If the valve does not seal or opens too often, stomach acid can move into the esophagus. This creates heartburn, and frequent heartburn — more than twice a week — is a sign of acid reflux disease. People with lung disease may find that acid reflux increases their lung disease symptoms. Avoiding or limiting acidic foods and drinks (citrus, fruit juice, tomato sauce, coffee and spicy foods) reduces acid reflux symptoms, and therefore, lung disease symptoms.
Everyone likes eating well, but with a chronic condition such as lung disease, it’s more important to eat healthy. Ask your doctor before you change your diet. Healthy eating habits, along with treatments such as stem cell therapy, could improve your quality of life. At the Lung Institute, innovative procedures harvest patients’ own stem cells to harness the body’s natural healing ability. Patients can take charge of their health and pulmonary conditions through healthy diet and alternative treatment options and return to the lifestyle they want. If you or a loved one has COPD or another lung disease, and would like to learn more about treatment options, contact us or call (800) 729-3065.