When someone is diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), many aspects of that person’s life change. Doctors will recommend several lifestyle modifications to help prevent symptoms flare-ups and other complications.
One of the most important areas to modify is something most people do three times a day – eat. With your health in mind, here are some Foods to Avoid with COPD.
Cold Cuts and Cured Meats
Most cold cut sandwich meats contain additives, called nitrates, which help to maintain the color of cold cuts or prolong their shelf life. No matter if someone has COPD or not, it’s recommended to keep these types of food to a minimum or avoid them if possible.
Types of cold cuts include:
- Bacon (Yes, bacon. Unless it’s uncured bacon without additives.)
- Cold Cuts
- Hot Dogs
A little pinch of salt may be fine every now and then, but a heavy salt diet can be a problem for someone with COPD. Salt can cause people to retain water, which can make breathing more difficult. For those looking for other ways to ditch the salt but still have flavor, check out these herbs and spices.
Although milk is a great source of vitamins and minerals, milk is also known to increase mucus production. During flare-ups, people with lung disease often experience an increase in mucus. As an alternative, try almond or soy milk.
Dairy products to avoid include:
- Ice cream
Cruciferous Vegetables are great sources of fiber and other nutrients, but they can also cause excess gas and bloating. For someone with COPD, bloating and excess gas can cause pressure and make it more difficult to breathe.
Think about cutting out these vegetables if possible, or at least limit their consumption.
- Brussels spouts
- Bok choy
Like broccoli or cauliflower, fried foods can cause bloating and excess gas making it difficult to breathe. Eating too much fried food can also cause weight gain, thus putting more pressure on the diaphragm. Do your best to avoid these foods, as well as most things commonly found in a drive-through:
- French fries
- Onion rings
- Jalapeño poppers
- Fried chicken
- Fried fish
It should be no surprise that carbonated beverages contribute to gas and bloating. Not only do soft drinks and other carbonated beverages cause abdominal pressure from bloating, they typically contain a lot of sugar and contribute to dehydration.
If you’re thirsty, drink water. Your lungs will thank you.
Avoid these beverages:
- Carbonated soft drinks
- Sparkling waters
- Sparkling wines
- Sparkling cider
Sulfites are often added to foods and drinks to help them maintain shelf life or appearance. Sulfites trigger a narrowing of bronchial tubes in people with respiratory problems. Some sulfite-containing foods include:
- Some medications (talk to your doctor)
Avoid Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Do you know which foods to avoid with COPD that can give you acid reflux? Try to avoid or eliminate these foods from your diet. Long-term acid reflux, referred to as GERD, can increase COPD symptoms.
Furthermore, COPD sufferers are already at a higher risk of developing acid reflux.
- Citrus fruit
- Fruit juices
- Anything fried
- Tomato sauce
Although it sounds like a lot of foods to avoid with COPD, by implementing these dietary suggestions over time, it will become second nature. Remember to ask your doctor before you change your diet.
After an adjustment period, you’ll be eating healthier and feeling better.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.