We all need food to fuel our body’s activities, and
that includes breathing. When you’re living with chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a common lung disease that makes it hard to
breathe, you need more energy to breathe than most. A good diet can help
because it can keep you at an ideal weight to support your breathing and help keep
COPD symptoms from getting worse. Steering clear of the foods that can deplete
your energy and increase your symptoms will help you, and your loved ones,
breathe a little easier.
too much salt in your diet can be hard on your lungs because it causes you to
retain fluids, which may increase blood pressure and lead to shortness of
breath. Ask your doctor about how much sodium you should have in your diet. Pay
attention to food labels and read the sodium content. In general, you should
look for products with less than 140 mg of sodium per serving. You may also
want to talk to a registered dietitian or nutritionist about other ways to cut
your sodium intake, such as avoiding canned soups and using spices and herbs in
lieu of salt to season your food.
that tend to give us that bloated, gassy feeling are especially not a friend to
those with COPD. A full or bloated stomach can make breathing uncomfortable. You
may have your own gassy trouble-makers, but some common culprits are the “B”
foods — broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beans and beer. Onions, cabbage, sauerkraut
and fried and fatty foods also pose problems for people. So pass on the
gas-makers, but be sure to replace the vegetables with others that are easier
to digest and give your body the nutrients it needs.
may be hard for some people to give up, but for those with COPD, it can make a
big difference in their breathing. Soda is infused with carbon dioxide, which
leads to belly gas and bloating, making breathing more of a chore. Soda also
has a high sugar content, and sugar — even sugar substitutes — has been shown
to cause inflammation, which can negatively impact your breathing. The “empty”
calories of soda may contribute to obesity, which can also make breathing
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Caffeine may interfere with some of your COPD
medicines, so you may need to avoid foods with a high caffeine content, such as
chocolate, coffee, tea and sodas. Water is one of the best things you can drink
as it will help keep mucus thin and easier to cough up. Try to drink at least 6
to 8 eight-ounce glasses of non-caffeinated beverages each day.
people equate carbohydrates with energy, but the truth is, simple
carbohydrates, such as cookies, cakes and pies, cause you to hold in too much
carbon dioxide. This often leads to that ultimate energy dip we get after
eating these kinds of sweets, and can leave you feeling tired and weak. Try to
avoid, or at least cut back, on these goodies to allow your body more energy
for the work of breathing.
which is found in dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese
— even fat-free sherbets — can cause bloating, making breathing harder for
people with COPD. But since dairy products are the main source of calcium, it’s
important to eat other foods that allow you to get your recommended daily
calcium intake. Ask your doctor or nutritionist about how much calcium you
need, as well as Vitamin D, which is what allows the body to absorb calcium. He
or she can recommend the best foods to meet your needs.
breathing requires more energy for people with COPD, it’s important to maintain
a healthy body weight. If you’re overweight, your heart and lungs have to work
harder, and the extra weight may require more oxygen. Try to avoid high-calorie
foods, such as meats, baked goods, sodas and fried and fatty foods. But be sure
to balance this with healthy fats and proteins so you don’t lose too much
weight. Being underweight may leave you feeling weak and tired and more prone
to infection. Ask your doctor or dietitian what your ideal weight should be and
how many calories you should consume per day.