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How to Create a Healthy COPD Diet in 5 Easy Steps

3 Apr 2017
| Under COPD, Diet and Nutrition, Lifestyle, Tips | Posted by | 12 Comments
How to Create a Healthy COPD Diet in 5 Easy Steps

Diet is key in addressing COPD symptoms. Here’s how to set up a COPD diet plan that works.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can make life for those who have it very difficult. And in short, to say that the diseases’ symptoms can have a significant effect on the quality of life for a patient is an understatement. For more than 15 million Americans, chronic respiratory issues related to shortness of breath, fatigue, and limited mobility continue to make even the simplest of daily activities nearly impossible. Whether it’s the act of cleaning up around the house, getting mail from the mailbox or having the energy needed to play with your grandchildren, COPD and other chronic lung diseases can dramatically limit your ability to engage in a normal life.

Although there are many beneficial and traditional treatment options available such as inhalers, inhaled corticosteroids and supplemental oxygen—including some natural and emerging alternatives—in managing one’s respiratory health, it’s important to start from the ground up.

It’s important to start by improving your general health as much as possible in addition to the use of medication, pills, and surgery. To do this, the key is to address your COPD diet first.

With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to give you a blue print on how to do just that and explain just How to Create a Healthy COPD Diet in 5 Easy Steps.

5. Stock Up on Protein for a Healthy COPD Diet

How to Create a Healthy COPD Diet in 5 Easy Steps

So, what’s the big deal about protein?

Protein is vital. In essence, it’s one of the most important nutrients your body can receive, allowing it to heal itself, build muscle and create antibodies that fight infection. As a crucial chemical within our food, the bonus is that protein is found in a large variety of differing foods and substances. For those looking to increase their protein intake, lean meats—particularly chicken—can be a great source of protein intake. Just make sure it’s all-white meat chicken though, so leave the McNuggets at the window. Instead, look for simple foods like grilled chicken breast with lemon. Grilling the chicken with olive oil can keep down the trans and saturated fat, and the lemon may help open airways and ease breathing.

If grilling, pan-frying or baking is too strenuous, you can get your necessary protein intake through simple foods like eggs, beans (specifically black beans) and nuts. So, fry an omelet in the morning with mushrooms, spinach and cheddar cheese. Create a plate of grilled chicken, black beans and white rice. Or if you just want to relax a little bit after a long day, make a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Your body will get all the nutrients it needs, and you’ll save more money than if you ate out or bought pre-prepared meals (frozen dinners).

 4. You Need Vitamin D

Got Milk?

Although many patients with lung disease believe that milk causes phlegm and should therefore be avoided, this fact is only half-true. In truth, drinking milk does not cause phlegm production; however, what it does do is allow current phlegm within the throat to become thicker. So how do you get the vital nutrients of vitamin D and calcium without producing more phlegm.

For starters, you could eat cheese. Cheese is loaded with vitamin D, calcium and protein. And for those that are above the age of 50, Vitamin D is critical to keeping aging bones healthy and strong. The added effect of Vitamin D is that it also has been shown to improve respiratory health in those with COPD. Other products that can be packed with Vitamin D and other nutrients are yogurt, soy-milk, fish, tofu, cereals and certain shellfish like oysters.

 3. Take a Note from the Japanese, and Eat More Fish

How to Create a Healthy COPD Diet in 5 Easy Steps

Did you know that the Japanese have one of the healthiest diets in the world?

They also have one of the longest life expectancies. The reason behind this is because of how they portion their food. For starters, their diets are high in certain carbs (rice), vegetables, fruits, as well as fish and meat. It’s low in saturated fats, and they have few processed foods. They also prefer tea and water on a cultural level (but more on water later). Since the times of ancient Japan, the Japanese have been a people that have structured their meals thusly:

  • A staple food: Typically, white rice
  • Steamed or grilled vegetables
  • Occasionally, a meat such as seafood, sometimes poultry, and rarely red meat

Because the country of Japan is an island nation, they have taken full advantage of the abundancy of seafood that surrounds them. Although even before the proliferation of Buddhism in the country, eating four-legged land animals was seen as being unclean and avoided by personal choice.

Eating fish in abundance in favor of traditional American meats (red meat specifically) can be incredibly beneficial to overall health and life expectancy outcomes. Due to fish’s essential vitamins and oils (vitamin D and omega-3s), while being low in cholesterol and fat, fish can be a great way to lose weight while giving your body the vitamins and nutrients it needs to thrive. Just try not to eat them fried as much as you eat them grilled.

Preferred fish: Salmon, Mackerel and Sardines.

2. Drink More Water

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: water is everything. Our bodies not only need it to survive, but in truth, our bodies are mostly water themselves. Despite these facts and how badly our body needs water to thrive, most Americans are chronically dehydrated. In general, the average American should be drinking at least half a gallon of water a day. A red solo cup is about 16 fluid ounces which means you’d need to drink four of these to equal the minimum amount of required water for the day. That might sound like a lot, but the effects are well worth the inconvenience of drinking that much water. So, add water to your COPD diet.

Improved water intake has been linked better sleep, reduced headaches, reduced phlegm, increased energy levels, and a general ease of breathing.

1. Avoid Bad Foods as Much as Possible

How to Create a Healthy COPD Diet in 5 Easy Steps

This list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t give you a complete list of the foods you need to avoid. And it starts with:

Cut Out the Cold Cuts and Cured Meats

As we mentioned above, red meat should be eaten sparingly in favor of fish and chicken. So, when it comes to American favorites such as bacon, burgers, cold cut deli sandwiches and hot dogs, these meats tend to be all flavor (mostly salt) without the nutritional benefit.

Foods with Excessive Salt

Drop the salt and vinegar potato chips. Excessive sodium intake can lead to heart and respiratory problems. Salty snacks like fries and popcorn may taste delicious, but be wary of how much you’re taking in.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous Vegetables are your sprout vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts. These are great sources of vitamin C, A and fiber, but can also cause excessive bloating and gas, ultimately creating an atmosphere that makes it more difficult to breathe.

Fried Foods and Sodas

Yes, these are certainly among life’s simple pleasures; however, they’re devoid of any real nutrition or positive health value. Instead of getting a coke with your meal, just get a water. The carbonation will cause bloating and hiccupping which will only make obstructed breathing that much worse. Eat these foods as rarely as possible, if at all, and you’ll be surprised how much better you end up feeling once you get past the initial Pepsi withdrawals.

See the full list of foods to avoid here.

Looking to What’s Next

Creating a COPD diet that works for your health doesn’t have to be difficult, and taking the small steps to change your lifestyle can have a dramatic effect on your day-to-day energy and quality of life. Although we always recommend quitting smoking first as the first step to better health, the second is often to address your general health through simple diet and exercise.

And with these behavioral changes, it’s possible to greatly affect the pronouncement of symptoms within those with COPD, emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis. However, when lifestyle changes fail to improve your quality of life in the way that you may expect, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve quality of life.

For more information on stem cell therapy and what it could mean for your life moving forward, contact us today or call us at (800) 729-3065. Our patient coordinators will walk you through our available treatment options, talk through your current health and medical history and determine a qualifying treatment plan that works best for you.

Interested in our article on How to Create a Healthy COPD Diet in 5 Easy Steps? Share your thoughts and comments below.

12 Comments

  1. Phoebe

    4 months ago

    Hi Marin,

    For some people, dairy products may increase mucus, especially in people who are allergic to dairy. In addition, dairy has the potential to thicken existing mucus. So, if someone is allergic to dairy or notices an increase in mucus production after eating dairy products, it’s best if dairy is avoided. However, there are many tasty alternatives to dairy products that are fortified with vitamin D and calcium, such as almond milk, soy milk and nondairy cheeses. In fact, there are even coconut and soy yogurts in a variety of flavors. We hope you find this information helpful.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  2. Phoebe

    4 months ago

    Hi Brad,

    Dairy products may increase mucus in people who are allergic to dairy. In addition, there are some studies that suggest that dairy may increase mucus in people who are not allergic to it. Also, dairy has the potential to thicken existing mucus. So, if someone is allergic to dairy or notices an increase in mucus production after eating dairy products, it’s best if dairy is avoided. There are many tasty alternatives to dairy products that are fortified with vitamin D and calcium, such as almond milk, soy milk and nondairy cheeses. We hope this information is helpful for you. We wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  3. Brad Craig

    4 months ago

    All Very hard to understand. a healthy COPD diet should include vitamin D. In this article it includes dairy products, milk, cheese and yogurt. on the Lung institute blog of things not to eat. You list,milk, yogurt and cheese

  4. Marin5

    4 months ago

    you recommended cheese and yogurt instead of milk to get Vitamin D,and
    later in foods to avoid you put cheese and yogurt. Which is it??

  5. Phoebe

    4 months ago

    Hi Tanya,

    We’re glad you have found our articles helpful. We have written many articles about recipes for people with chronic lung diseases. You can search for recipes in the search bar on our website. In addition, here are a couple of articles to get you started. Click here for an article that includes a recipe guide, and click here for some quick, healthy recipes. We wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  6. Tanya Shockley

    4 months ago

    Lung Institute articles are always helpful. I read most anything I can get my hands on about cops, etc. How do I locate recipes for prep of recommended foods for those of us who suffered from this disease.

  7. Phoebe

    7 months ago

    Dear Denise,

    Thanks for your comment. The best first step you can take is to ask your doctor who he or she recommends you see to help you set up a diet plan. Often, doctors have recommendations of dieticians in the local area. We wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  8. Matt

    7 months ago

    That’s great, Luanne!
    Thanks for sharing. We’re glad to read that you’re finding our content helpful. Have a great day!

  9. Matt

    7 months ago

    Thank you, Edna!
    We’re glad you found our article informative and helpful. Have a great day!

  10. EDNA

    7 months ago

    your article is very informative .

  11. Luanne

    7 months ago

    Thank you this was very helpful for me. I appreciate this. I read it all. I have emphysem and copd.

  12. Denise

    7 months ago

    I would like to find OUR where in my can I find a person who knows about copd and knows how to set up a diet plan for me.

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