The official blog of the Lung Institute.
We all eat–some much better than others–yet those who live with the ever-looming concerns about symptom flare ups and oxygen therapy management that accompany a COPD diagnosis, need to be extra cautious about food choice. Certain diets made up of COPD-friendly foods can help improve blood oxygen levels, yet others can cause excessive boating and compress the chest. This makes the already difficult task of breathing with a lung disease all the more difficult. However, a well-informed eater can actually improve blood oxygen levels with these foods.
How does food improve blood oxygen levels?
Here’s the myth: food composed of an abundance of oxygen will supply more of those O2 molecules into my blood. The digestive system and the lungs work very differently when extracting elements and nutrients. Oxygen is not transferred into the blood through the digestive track.
Oxygen makes its way into our blood when the air we breathe transfers the oxygen through an exchange of gasses that happens deep in the tiny alveoli of the lungs. During this exchange, the body swaps gas waste in the form of CO2 with the oxygen. The oxygen is then picked up in the red blood cells which have a protein called hemoglobin that suck up the oxygen molecules. Those red blood cells then deliver the oxygen molecules to the organs of the body which allows them to function properly.
Low blood oxygen means poor organ performance. Certain foods can help improve blood oxygen levels for those with COPD by increasing the abundance of the hemoglobin protein the red blood cells use in the transference process. If you think of the blood stream as a train track, you can consider the train cars hemoglobin and people on the train oxygen molecules. Increasing hemoglobin is like adding more cars which allows more people or oxygen get to the desired destination. Eating certain foods can build more trains!
COPD-Friendly foods that improve blood oxygen levels
Hemoglobin is composed of the building blocks found in iron, vitamin C and folic acid-rich foods. Here are our top 5 foods that have can help with hemoglobin production:
5. Shrimp. A lean seafood, Shrimp are a good low calorie protein substitute for red meat. Packed with nutrients like vitamin B-12, phosphorous, selenium, choline, copper, iodine and certain antioxidants, shrimp are also an excellent source of protein.
4. Oranges. Packed with Vitamin C, oranges are easy to find all year and are tasty, too. Oranges are also packed with fiber, and they are excellent sources of vitamins B and A as well as nutrients such as folate, pantothenic acid, calcium, copper and potassium. Feeling hungry? Try an orange.
3. Nettle. This herb contains many flavanoids and vitamins such as quercetin, vitamins B, C and K1. It also contains calcium and magnesium. Nettle is used in making a great tea. Try it with honey. Remember to discuss drinking nettle tea with your doctor before you try it.
2. Apples. Another easy-to-find, delicious fruit, apples, help increase hemoglobin production and make a great snack. Apples are rich in antioxidants, flavanoids and dietary fiber, including phytonutrients, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, potassium and phosphorous.
1. Almond Milk. This dairy-free alternative won’t cause increased mucus production like regular dairy milk. As an added bonus, almond milk contains numerous vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, folate, riboflavin, thiamine and vitamins C, E and B-6. You can find almond milk at most grocery stores, and it comes in chocolate and vanilla flavors, too.
Improving blood oxygen levels in other ways
Those coping with a lung disease know very well that there is little traditional medicine can do to help manage symptoms or improve lung function. Adopting a holistic and proactive approach to your disease can help turn a symptom management plan into a disease treatment plan. Looking for additional treatment approaches beyond traditional medicine has helped hundreds of those with COPD like Thomas V. from Keene, New Hampshire. Thomas took his treatment into his own hands and found stem cell therapy for lung disease to be the answer. Now, he is outside in his garden and going on regular bike rides without become short of breath like he was before treatment.
Do you know of another way to improve blood oxygen levels? Share them in the comments below.