Food is a necessity in our lives. Moreover, if you have been diagnosed with COPD, a good diet can be even more important. Although a healthy diet is not the cure for COPD, it does affect your breathing and blood oxygen level to a great extent. Furthermore, it helps build up your immune system and prevents you from getting other infections or illnesses that can exacerbate your COPD symptoms.
Fat and carbs
The food we eat is metabolized with the help of oxygen and produces energy and carbon dioxide. And different food produces different amount of carbon dioxide during metabolism. Among all common food types, carbohydrates produce the most carbon dioxide for the amount of oxygen while fat produces the least. Higher carbon dioxide production adds more burden to your breathing. Therefore, people with COPD are suggested to eat a diet with fewer carbohydrates and more fat. Here are some more detailed instructions on your choice of carbohydrates and fat:
Good choice of fat
If you are on a higher-fat diet, choose those which are rich in nutrition. Ideal choices include avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, fatty fish, and cheese. But if your doctor suggests you lose weight, you should still limit the intake of these fats.
You should try to keep away from fried food like fries, chips, fried chicken, and onion rings. These food are too greasy that they require more effort to digest and will cause bloating, another obstacle in breathing.
Eat complex carbohydrates
A higher-fat and lower-carb diet doesn't necessarily mean you have to avoid all carbs but means choosing the right ones. Complex carbohydrates like oats, bran, and whole-grain bread are high in fiber that can help you digest. Limit the intake of simple carbohydrates including candy, cake, and packaged snacks, which are high in sugar and low in nutrition.
Protein intake is essential to maintaining a strong body and respiratory muscles. Dairy products, meat, fish, and poultry are always good choices. If you want to lose weight, choose lean meats and low-fat dairy products which come with low fat. To gain weight, whole milk and whole milk and whole milk cheese can provide more fat.
Fruit and vegetable
Fresh fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are essential to keep us healthy. Basically, all fruits and vegetables (except starchy vegetables like potatoes and peas) are low in carbs, so feel free to add them to your diet. However, some of them may cause indigestion and bloat. Such fruits and vegetables can include apples, apricot, peach, melon, cauliflower, broccoli, radish, and cabbage. If you feel indigestion or bloating, stop having them.
Drink plenty of water
This tip applies to everyone. Drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water a day is important to keep you hydrated. For COPD patients, drinking plenty of water also helps keep mucus thin for easier removal. Any liquid can be taken into account the required amount except alcoholic and caffeinated drinks, which may worsen your COPD symptoms. Alcohol and caffeine increase blood circulation and your heart rate, making you require more oxygen. So keep away from them or ask your doctor for advice. You should also avoid drinks that are high in sugar.
Too much salt intake is likely to cause swelling that may increase blood pressure or cause water retention. Both will affect your ability to breathe. Limit the use of salt in cooking and buy snacks with no more than 300 mg of sodium per serving. Consult your healthcare provider about substitutes for low sodium.
Adequate intake of potassium
Potassium is important to lung function. A deficiency in potassium can cause breathing problems. The following food contains a lot of potassium: avocado, tomato, banana, orange, beet, and asparagus.
Control your weight
COPD consists of various respiratory diseases. Some make people gain weight while others make you lose weight. If you are overweight, your heart and lung have to make extra effort for increased oxygen demand, making it even harder to breathe. If you are underweight, you may feel weak and tired, and a weaker immune system may expose you to other infections or diseases. Therefore, start controlling your weight by adjusting your diet. You can refer to the content above or ask your healthcare provider.
Separate your meals
To make your digestion easier, separate 3 meals into 5-6 smaller meals. This also helps make more room for your lung and diaphragm to move freely.
Eat more in the morning if you feel too tired later in the day. An affluent breakfast can boost your energy level for the whole day.
Prepare your meal in advance
Preparing for a meal is also quite energy-consuming. Try to prepare it in advance and have enough rest before a meal, so that you won't feel too exhausted to eat anything. It's also a good alternative to ask someone else to help with the preparation.
Sit straight comfortably and eat slowly. Thoroughly chew your food and don't drink until you finish eating. All these help prevent bloating which aggravates breathing problems.
These are some general suggestions you can take on your diet. Always remember to keep in touch with your dietitian or healthcare provider and make timely adjustments to your diet.