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Nutritional Guidelines for Better Breathing

5 Apr 2016
| Under COPD, Lifestyle | Posted by | 7 Comments
Nutritional Guidelines for Better Breathing

After a chronic lung disease diagnosis, it’s important to make lifestyle modifications to prevent symptom flare-ups. One of the most important areas to examine when finding ways to improve breathing is your diet. Oxygen is a main ingredient in the process of changing food into fuel in your body. A quick understanding of the science of how oxygen and our food work together can help those with lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) breathe more easily. Here we provide some basic nutritional guidelines for better breathing.

A Brief Overview

Simply put, the higher quality foods you put in your body, the more easily your body can metabolize the food and put less stress on the body. Oxygen and food work together to create energy for your body, and the waste product of that process is carbon dioxide. Carbohydrates produce the most carbon dioxide for the amount of oxygen used, and fat produces the least amount. Therefore, those with COPD may benefit from a diet that is higher in (healthy) fat and lower in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates and fats have gotten a bad rap; however, it’s unhealthy to eliminate them completely from your diet. Don’t be scared to eat carbohydrates or fats just make sure that you’re eating the right types of these foods, and your body will thank you. Let’s dig into this idea a little further.

Which Foods Should You Eat with COPD?

Complex Carbohydrates

Your best bet is to choose complex carbohydrates, but the carbohydrates that you choose will vary depending on your weight goals. Complex carbohydrates help to improve your energy, digestion, metabolism, sleep, brain function and nervous system function. Good complex carbohydrates include foods like whole grain bread and pasta as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. If you’re trying to lose weight, get the majority of your complex carbohydrates from fresh fruits and vegetables over bread and pasta. If you’re trying to gain weight, get your complex carbohydrates from a combination of whole grain breads and pastas along with fruits and vegetables. Limit simple carbohydrates like table sugar, candy, cake and soft drinks. A good rule of thumb is to eat 20 to 30 grams of fiber daily.


You also need to consume protein at least twice a day to keep your respiratory muscles strong. Protein helps your body’s tissues, cells and muscles. Some good quality proteins include eggs, yogurt, seafood, nuts and chicken. If you want to lose weight, choose lean meats and low-fat dairy as sources of protein. If you want to gain weight, choose proteins that have a higher fat content, like whole milk and whole milk cheese and yogurt. Try to limit proteins that are highly processed or high in fat, like sausage, burgers, hot dogs and bacon. The amount of protein that you should eat daily depends on how much you exercise. The more you exercise, especially if you do weight training, the more protein you should eat.


The third major important food to consider is fat. Eating healthy fats can help you manage your moods, improve mental alertness, fight fatigue and even control your weight. Good fats include nuts (unsalted), seeds, olive oil, fatty fish (ie. salmon, tuna, mackerel or herring) and avocados. If you want to lose weight, limit your intake of fats, even healthy ones, and the opposite is true if you’re trying to gain weight. Avoid fats that are high in trans-fat and saturated fat like butter, lard, meats that are high in fat, fried foods, cookies and crackers. All fats should be consumed on a limited basis, depending on your weight goals.

The foods that we eat affect how hard our body has to work to convert them into energy. The harder our body has to work to change food into energy, the more oxygen we are required to take in. Being aware of the best foods to eat when you have COPD or another lung disease can help you breathe more easily.

Though a change in diet can do a lot of good when helping to prevent symptom flare-ups, it may not be enough. Many people with lung disease have experienced an improved quality of life after receiving stem cell therapy from the Lung Institute. If you or a loved one suffers from COPD, contact the Lung Institute today. Our patient coordinators can be reached by calling (800) 729-3065.


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  3. PB

    2 years ago

    Dear Mary,

    Thanks for your comment. We do operate under the guidelines of the FDA, but as of right now, the FDA doesn’t regulate a patient’s own cells. We’re hopeful that treatment will be covered by insurance companies in the near future, but it will take some time before the insurance companies see a financial benefit in their favor and then decide to cover it. However, you can learn more about stem cell treatment options and have your questions answered by one of our qualified patient coordinators. Feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 for more information. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  4. Mary Savord

    2 years ago

    Are you trying to get FDA approval or whatever you have to do to get Medicare coverage?

  5. PB

    2 years ago

    Hello Virginia,

    Unfortunately, at this time, insurance companies don’t cover treatment. However, we’re hopeful that treatment will be covered by insurance companies in the near future. Keep in mind that it will take some time before the insurance companies see a financial benefit in their favor and then decide to cover it. In the meantime, you can learn more about possible stem cell treatment options and have your questions answered by one of our patient coordinators. Feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 for more information. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  6. Virginia Mitchell

    2 years ago

    When are you going to be doing insurance?

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* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

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