Most of us know that eating healthy and maintaining a good weight is a critical component to our overall health. For individuals with COPD it is important to remember that a healthy diet/weight can help improve breathlessness, increase energy and make you feel better.
In addition, individuals with COPD may also benefit from these nutrition and healthy eating tips:
Drink lots of fluids, preferably water: For those with cough and mucous, drinking plenty of fluids helps to thin mucus/phlegm and makes it easier to clear it out of the lungs, explains Elizabeth Page, BA, RRT, AE-C, Respiratory Wellness Coordinator at Yavapai Regional Medical Center in Arizona and author of Save Your Breath, A Guide to Eating Well for People with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. [In addition], if someone feels they are getting ill, increasing fluid intake can help the immune system fight infection and prevent dehydration.(Individuals with heart problems should discuss their water intake with their physician.)
Reduce salt intake: Reducing salt or sodium intake, which can lead to fluid retention, is important for COPD patients on steroids, with high blood pressure or kidney or heart problems. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals limit their sodium intake to 1500 mg per day. Consider using herbs, limes and vinegar to season in place of salt.
Increase fresh foods and reduce chemicals and food additives: We all need to shift our diet toward simple fresh foods and away from processed foods, Page explains. For people with a chronic condition this can make a lot of difference for managing weight, energy levels and inflammation. Many processed foods are highly inflammatory and lack anti-oxidants. (Anti-oxidants are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals which are unstable molecules).
Avoid overeating: We have all had the feeling of having eaten too much ?anksgiving dinner! explains Page. For someone whose breathing is compromised they may notice more problems with their breathing when they do thisand it can be very unpleasant. If someone who has trouble with their breathing overeats and then gets up to walk or move around, they will experience more breathlessness because their belly is full, their diaphragm is pushed up and the body is busy digesting. Consider eating several small meals throughout the day.
Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight requires more effort to move which requires more oxygen for muscular effort. And this requires more breath. When breathing is limited [as with COPD] a person cant do much without experiencing shortness of breath, Page explains. Normalizing weight and exercising improves muscular efficiency. Efficient muscles consume less oxygen, which in turn reduces the work of breathing. If a person with COPD loses weight and exercises they will say their breathing is better to describe the experience of being able to do more, and go farther before they become short of breath.