4 Diet Considerations For Managing COPD

Published: 2013-12-10, Last Modified:

For both those living with COPD and those caring for someone with this condition, healthy lifestyle choices can play an important role in reducing symptoms and decreasing the discomfort in breathing that are associated with this disease. While diet does not serve as the primary means of treatment in the way that it does for conditions like type 2 diabetes or heart disease, the foods that a person with COPD eats or avoids can certainly influence the disease. As a result, it is important that those with COPD be aware of the nutritional considerations affecting the condition.

Getting Appropriate Nutrients Is Important For Lung Health

Eating foods rich in nutrients crucial for lung health is a primary part of any diet that aims to manage COPD. People with this condition have been found to be deficient in many of these key materials, which include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, selenium and zinc.

This may seem like a long list, but the good news is that a person can easily meet their needs for these nutrients by following some common-sense nutritional guidelines. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables in an assortment of colors is one part of such a diet. As well, consuming healthy fats such as nuts, and plenty of plant-based proteins such as legumes is also important.

This advice is so common it is easy to dismiss. Most of us know that these types of foods are good for us, but we do not fully grasp how crucial it is that we eat them. Eating these foods will give the lungs the nutrients they need to function better.

In addition to vitamins, Calcium is another important nutrient to consider. Not only does it influence lung function, it helps keeps the bones strong which is important because people with COPD are more likely to develop the bone disease osteoporosis. For those looking to add calcium, dairy is generally the best source.

However, in some cases supplements may also be a good idea to ensure adequate intake. Also keep in mind that the body needs sufficient vitamin D to absorb calcium. Good dietary sources include fortified cereals, milk and eggs. Supplementation is usually a good idea, but we should alwasy check with a doctor regarding the appropriate dose because too much vitamin D can be toxic.

Some Foods Can Make Breathing Difficulties Worse

While most of us know what we should be eating, we also know that what we should not and more specifically, that eating too much salt can be bad for us causing problems such as increased blood pressure. What fewer of us know, however is that salt also causes others issues that are problematic especially among those who suffer from certain health conditions, such as COPD. High salt intake encourages fluid retention, which makes it more difficult to breathe.

To avoid this, read the labels of packaged products carefully as many are notoriously high in salt. The Cleveland Clinic recommends foods that have less than 300 mg of salt per serving. For those who have ever tried low-and-no-salt versions of some of their favorite foods, they have quickly discovered the huge role salt plays in making stuff taste good. That said, salt is not necessary to have food that tastes good.

Those who must reduce salt intake should considering experimenting with herbs and spices to make foods more palatable. Salt substitutes can be a good alternative, but it is important that we check with a doctor first as some mixes may contain ingredients that may be harmful for other reasons.

Like foods high in salt, foods that cause gas and bloating create changes in the body that lead to breathing difficulties. Obvious culprits include carbonated beverages. Spicy foods or fried foods cause gas and bloating in some. Fruits and vegetables that commonly cause gas and bloating include apples, avocados, melons, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, cauliflower, leeks, shallots, corn, peppers and soy beans.

People can have very individual responses, so paying attention to how we feel when we eat certain foods is important. Some foods that are usually a problem for other people may be fine for a particular person, and vice versa.

How We Eat Affects How Well COPD Is Manager

How we eat can be almost as important as what we eat when it comes to reducing COPD symptoms. If a person feels short of breath during or shortly after meals, there are things to do that can help. Eating food more slowly and chewing it thoroughly is one example. Putting the fork down between bites is a good way to pace oneself. Pacing oneself in this way is important because a really full stomach can leave less room for the lungs to expand, making it hard to breathe.

Instead of eating three big meals a day, a person who experiences trouble breathing after a meal can experiment with smaller, more frequent meals. As well, by saving beverages for the end of the meal, rather than before or during can also avoid problems. Lastly, eating while sitting straight up can also be helpful because it reduces pressure on the lungs.

Optimizing Nutrition And Calorie Intake Is Important With COPD

In addition to the types of food and how a person eats, getting the right amount of calories is also important for people with COPD. This is because breathing difficulties tax the body and a person with COPD will use up a lot more energy, so maintaining a healthy weight often proves difficult for COPD patients. Because of this, it is extremely important to make the most of diet to maximize calories and the nutritional intake.

While any food is better than none, resisting the urge to fill up on non-nutritious foods while instead focusing on ones rich in nutrients can maximize a person’s chances of staying healthy. This can be accomplished by ensuring more calories are consumed at each meal by adding cheese or cream to soups for example. Unless a person with COPD has been specifically instructed otherwise, it is not a good idea to use low-fat or fat-free versions of foods.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys blogging about all matters of health; if you have breathing troubles, good indoor air quality is paramount. She recommends visiting www.rabbitair.com to learn more about air purifiers.

Related Links

http://www.webmd.com/lung/copd/more-essential-dietary-guidelines-for-copd-patients
http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/chronic_obstructive_pulmonary_disease_copd/hic_nutritional_guidelines_for_people_with_copd.aspx
http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease

Category: Disease Information, Symptom Information

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