What To Include In Your Diet If You Have COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition that affects the lungs of millions of people worldwide. It is a progressive disease, meaning that it worsens over time and is characterized by a restriction of airflow in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe (via Medical News Today). COPD is primarily caused by smoking, although exposure to air pollution, chemicals, and dust can also contribute to the development of the disease.

COPD symptoms vary from one person to another, but the most common ones include shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness. These symptoms can significantly impact a person's quality of life, and as the disease progresses, it can limit their ability to perform daily activities. Thankfully, several ways exist to help manage COPD symptoms, improve overall health, and slow down disease progression. This includes quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy and balanced diet, according to the Mayo Clinic.

What to include in your diet if you have COPD

A healthy and balanced diet can help manage COPD symptoms and improve overall health. According to a 2010 study published in the journal Acta Medica Iranica, adequate protein intake is vital for those with COPD as it supports healthy lung function and immunity. Foods that are high in protein include grass-fed meats, poultry, fish, and eggs. A diet that is high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates may be ideal as carbohydrates can increase the level of carbon dioxide in the body, per Healthline. Foods that are high in healthy fats include fatty fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and coconut oil.

Fruits and vegetables are also an important part of the COPD diet. According to a 2019 study published in the journal Nutrients, foods rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may be beneficial since COPD is an inflammatory disease. The study says that some of the best choices include green leafy vegetables, apples, peppers, and pears. Fruits and vegetables rich in calcium, vitamin C, and potassium may be helpful since those nutrients positively impact lung function. When considering your meals, it is important to limit foods that can worsen COPD symptoms, such as caffeine, processed and fried foods, and foods high in sodium, per Healthline.

Treatment and lifestyles changes

While COPD isn't curable, several lifestyle changes can be made to help manage symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. The most important lifestyle change for people with COPD is to quit smoking. Smoking is the primary cause of COPD, and quitting smoking may help slow down the progression of the disease, per Medical News Today

Being overweight can also put extra strain on the lungs and make breathing more difficult (via Healthline). Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can help manage COPD symptoms. According to the American Lung Association, regular exercise can help improve lung function and overall fitness for people with COPD. A pulmonary rehabilitation program can teach you how to best manage your COPD and help you exercise in a way that's both effective and safe. If your symptoms are severe, other management options include medication, such as bronchodilators and oxygen therapy, per Medical News Today.