An inflammatory and chronic lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) makes it difficult for people to breathe.
Millions of Americans are affected by COPD, and it is the third leading cause of death in the United States. If you have COPD, it is possible to treat and manage the symptoms so that its progression is slowed.
Some people do not recognize the symptoms of COPD until the disease is in its later stages. The common symptoms of COPD include the following signs:
- Chronic cough
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Mucous production
- Shortness of breath during normal activities
- Blue fingernail beds or lips
If you are diagnosed with COPD, your doctor may recommend a number of different treatment options, including the following:
- Pulmonary rehabilitation
- Oxygen supplementation
- Lung surgery in severe cases
- Palliative care
Your doctor may recommend dietary changes that can help to reduce the symptoms of the disease and help you to enjoy a longer, fuller life. Here are 16 foods that are recognized as being beneficial for people who suffer from COPD.
1. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish, including salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines, are rich sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help to fight inflammation and are beneficial to help to reduce the inflammation that people with COPD have in their airways, so that they can breathe easier.
2. Brightly Colored Vegetables
Brightly colored vegetables, such as carrots, tomatoes, Brussel sprouts, leafy greens, winter squash, and sweet potatoes, contain phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are powerful antioxidants which can repair cellular damage. By choosing to eat brightly colored vegetables on a regular basis, you can potentially help to repair some of the damaged cells in your respiratory system.
3. Fresh Fruit
Eating fresh fruit every day can also help to manage your COPD symptoms. Researchers have found that people who have COPD and who increase the amount of fruit that they eat each day by 100 grams decreased their risk of mortality by 24 percent.
It is common for sufferers of COPD to have difficulty with ingesting sufficient calories each day. Nuts are calorie rich and are a healthy option if you need additional calories in your diet.
Beans are inexpensive and a great source of zinc and fiber. Zinc may help to improve symptoms in people who have COPD. However, beans may also make you gassy, which can make it more difficult for you to breathe.
6. Whole Grains
Whole grains, such as millet, bulgur, and quinoa, do not contain the refined carbohydrates that are found in bread. You should opt for whole grains instead of bread because people who have COPD and whose diets include high carbohydrate levels may experience more inflammation. By contrast, whole grains help to improve your energy levels.
7. Reduced-Fat Milk
Most adults in the U.S. do not drink enough milk. It is especially important for you to make certain that you are drinking enough milk each day to get the calcium that you need, especially if you are a woman.
Reduced-fat milk is an excellent choice for people with COPD. Full-fat milk can cause a thickening of your mucus, but low-fat milk does not have as much of an effect because the milk fat that causes the thickening.
8. Healthy Fats
If you have COPD, you should try to minimize the number of saturated fats in your diet. These fats are primarily found in animal products. You should also avoid trans fats, which are commonly found in fried foods.
Instead, try to add healthy fats that are found in oils like olive oil, safflower oil, canola oil, and other plant oils. These fats do not contain cholesterol and can help to improve your overall health.
9. Vitamin D-Enriched Foods or Supplements
Some researchers have found that many people who have COPD are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency is believed to play a role in the onset of COPD and in worsened symptoms.
Choose foods that are fortified with vitamin D such as milk and fatty fish. You might also want to supplement your diet by taking vitamin D tablets.
10. Healthy Soups and Drinks
Healthy soups and drinks are excellent choices for people who have COPD. Many people who have COPD do not get enough fluids. Increasing your fluid intake by eating healthy soups and drinking healthy drinks can help to prevent dehydration while also thinning your mucus.
11. Foods Containing High Amounts of Fiber
Ingesting enough fiber each day is vital for your health. Females should be getting at least 21 grams of fiber each day while men should make sure to get at least 30 grams a day. Eating enough fiber helps to improve your digestive system’s health. It is important for people who have COPD because fiber can help you maintain a healthy weight.
12. Lean Proteins
With COPD, you should choose to eat lean instead of fatty proteins. Lean proteins include poultry, fish, and pork. If you choose to occasionally eat beef, you should choose lean cuts. This can help you to enjoy a good source of protein while limiting the saturated fats in your diet.
13. Low-Sodium Foods
If your diet contains excessive amounts of salt, it can cause you to retain fluids. Fluid retention can make it more difficult for you to breathe. Look for foods that have reduced sodium and avoid adding salt when you are cooking.
14. Foods That Are Rich in Potassium
It is common for people who have COPD to take diuretics to try to control their fluid retention problems. If you do, you risk depleting your potassium. Potassium helps to fight fatigue and is important for muscle functioning. You should make certain that you are eating potassium-rich foods such as bananas, squash, pistachios, and tuna.
15. Magnesium-Rich Foods
Magnesium is very important for all people to include in their diets, including people who have COPD. Magnesium is necessary for protein production and for proper muscle functioning. You should make certain to include foods that are rich sources of magnesium in your diet such as peas, beans, raw spinach, and dark green vegetables.
While water is not a food, it is very important to make certain that you are drinking at least eight glasses of water each day. Drinking enough water helps to keep you hydrated and thins your mucus, making it easier for you to breathe.
While COPD is a chronic condition, it is treatable. When you also make sure to exercise regularly and to eat a healthy diet, you can lead a longer, healthier life while minimizing your symptoms.
Start Managing Your COPD Better Today
These foods are just one place to begin when you’re living with COPD. Watching what you eat is important for COPD, and it can bring many benefits for your overall health. However, diet is merely one factor — if you want to live life to the fullest with COPD, it’s crucial that you know how to manage COPD overall. Being informed about COPD and its symptoms, challenges, and potential management options can help you and your overall health. And one of the best ways to manage COPD is to stay informed about all of the latest information available. As the medical field advances, you’ll want to know the most important developments and options for COPD.