COPD is a very real disease, and it’s important to take care of yourself while you’re still able to do so. When you have COPD, your health is closely allied with your quality of life. That’s why it’s important to include foods that will help keep you healthy and happy.
While good nutrition would still necessitate medication, there are a couple of foods that you could include in your diet to boost your energy levels and strengthen your lungs. Nutritionists at your pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD program can chalk out a customized diet plan for you.
Let’s take a look at some of the foods you should be mindful to include in your diet –
Because many people with COPD cannot eat properly, it ends up causing unintentional weight loss, malnutrition, and muscle loss. In fact, a study found that a majority of individuals with COPD don’t meet their daily protein and energy requirements.
By cutting down on protein and calories, you make your muscles work even harder to keep breathing, which could end up worsening your symptoms. Proteins are considered to be the building blocks of the body, so you have to increase your consumption of high-protein foods to keep your muscles strong. Try to include protein-rich foods twice a day in your diet.
Here are some of the foods that come with high-protein content –
● Dried Beans
If you’re thinking of gaining weight, you can choose high-protein foods with higher fat content, such as yogurt, whole-milk cheese, and whole milk.
Fiber is one of the essential ingredients that make up a healthy diet, and you must include it in your diet to avoid bloating and constipation, which is often the cause of shortness of breath. Because it is the indigestible segment of plant foods, it allows you to keep things moving in the digestive tract.
Besides that, a fiber-rich diet also helps keep your cholesterol levels low, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Try to keep your fiber consumption from 20 grams to 30 grams. Here are some of the foods you can add to your diet –
● Brown Rice
● Whole Grain Pastas
● Legumes, such as peas, lentils, and beans
● Whole Grain Cereals
● Whole Wheat Bread
Foods Containing Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids in certain plant foods and cold-water fish can help ease lung inflammation and other COPD symptoms. Researchers have also found that a Mediterranean diet, traditionally rich in omega-3-rich plants and seafood, can help reduce the risk of COPD. It could be because omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties.
Another study showed that consuming omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) could help patients with COPD reduce chronic wheezing and cough symptoms.
Other than that, omega-3 fats also have a lot of calories to help people with COPD meet their energy needs each day. Here are some of the foods with omega-3 fatty acids you may want to include in your diet –
● Canned light tuna
● Atlantic mackerel
● Canola oil
● Green leafy vegetables
Foods High in Vitamin D
More than half of the people with COPD also suffer from vitamin D deficiency. It could be because steroids, often prescribed to COPD patients, end up interfering with vitamin D absorption. In addition, people with COPD experience breathlessness, which makes them avoid spending time outdoors.
Vitamin D is paramount to bone health, and a deficiency could cause osteoporosis (brittle bones).
Before you think of taking vitamin D supplements, include these foods in your diet –
● Almond Milk
● Egg Yolk
● Canned Light Tuna
● Uncooked Mushrooms
Hydrating Drinks and Foods
It is essential to stay hydrated to maintain overall good health. Your organs need water to function properly, and because COPD puts your organs under greater stress, you have to prioritize hydration.
When you consume hydrating foods and drinks, it allows you to thin the mucus that blocks your airways, making it easier for you to breathe. According to the American Lung Association, individuals with COPD should ideally consume at least six to eight glasses of water each day, spreading it throughout the day to prevent overfilling the belly.
If you do not like the idea of drinking water, you can try drinking other caffeine-free drinks and fluids, such as juices, herbal teas, milk, etc. Many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, celery, and cucumbers, also have a lot of water content, so you may want to include them in your daily diet.
However, you may have to limit your water consumption if you suffer from heart problems. Talk to your doctor before introducing any dramatic change to your diet plan.
Your experts in pulmonary rehabilitation will give you clear dietary instructions, so make sure you follow them. Instead of going for large meals, keep your meals small and frequent to manage your COPD symptoms better. If you have questions regarding your food choices, you can ask your doctor about them.