Optimal Nutrition: Crafting the Ideal Diet for COPD Management

When you or a loved one suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you want to do everything you can to ease the symptoms.

Inhalers, steroids and other medications, as well as oxygen therapy, are all potential treatments for these diseases, but there are other things you can adjust to better your life with COPD, including changing your diet.

Keep Your Weight in Check
One of the first things to do after being diagnosed with COPD is to examine your weight. If you are currently overweight, it’s important to try and get down to a healthy weight range. This can vastly improve your quality of life, and not just regarding breathing easier.

Moving around with excess weight can make you even more fatigued and cause you to feel out of breath even more quickly. Obesity can also cause other health complications, which can worsen your COPD symptoms. On the other hand, you should not lose too much weight because being underweight can be just as bad for your health as being overweight when it comes to COPD, as your body may lack the energy to support breathing properly.

Eat the Right Foods
Instead of starting the latest fad diet, turn your attention to eating the right foods. Fad diets may be, in fact, bad for your health, as they often focus on just losing weight with no emphasis on getting the right nutrients. Patients with COPD need to make sure they are getting enough vitamins and minerals rather than following the latest health trend.

Protein: COPD patients should make sure they get enough protein, which is used by the body to build and repair tissue as well as many other important functions. One study showed that COPD patients commonly eat too little protein, exacerbating the symptoms of the disease. Eating the right type of protein is essential, though: eggs, lean meats, fish, and nuts are great sources of protein, all without the fat of red meat.

Fiber: A 2007 study showed that dietary fiber might be associated with better lung function, meaning that COPD patients may benefit from an increased fiber intake. Whole grains, brown rice, nuts, whole grain cereals, oatmeal, and produce such as apples, blueberries, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes are great sources of fiber to add to your diet.

Vitamin D: Another study showed that vitamin D deficiency is common among COPD patients, which worsens as the condition progresses. Increasing the intake of vitamin D can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis as well as prevent the lungs from deteriorating even further due to COPD. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines, eggs, and even some exposure to the sun can help increase your vitamin D intake.

Avoid the Wrong Foods
Bloat-causing foods: Foods such as cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli and cauliflower) can cause excessive gas, which can make it feel as though it is difficult to breathe. These vegetables are an excellent source of fiber and vitamins, however, so patients with COPD can eat them — just not too much.

Salt: Excess sodium can exacerbate respiratory issues and cause a host of other health problems — so it’s wise for COPD patients to reduce their salt intake. Skip salty foods such as potato chips, fries, pretzels, and other salty snacks, and make sure that any ingredient you add to your diet is low sodium.

Even a few changes to your diet can help ease some of the symptoms of COPD, and perhaps help stop the disease from worsening.