COPD Diet : Foods To Eat & Foods To Avoid


Patients of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD require more energy to breathe. So to maintain the optimal energy level in their body, doctors generally advise these people to improve their eating habits and consume a more balanced and nutritious diet. A healthy diet does not cure COPD, but boosts the body’s ability to fight infections, like chest infections. Eating healthy can make the COPD patient feel better, too. Want to know more about COPD diet, what foods to eat & what foods to avoid? Here’s a helpful piece of read on the dietary dos and don’ts for COPD patients.

What Foods to Eat in COPD Diet?

What Foods to Eat in COPD Diet?

COPD patients should pack their diet with fresh fruits and vegetables. They should consume:

A Healthy Breakfast: The energy levels in people with COPD are at their peak in the morning. So, it is recommended that COPD patients make breakfast their largest meal of the day. For their excellent fibre content, foods like oatmeal and whole-wheat toast should be included in the daily breakfast in COPD diet. Also COPD patients can have milk with oatmeal every morning, and add berries like blueberries or raspberries in it, to obtain good amounts of protein and antioxidants without adding sugar calories.

Drink Plenty of Fluids: It is important for COPD patients to drink enough fluids for keeping the mucus in the airways thin and preventing thick mucus from further blocking the passage of air. People with COPD should try to drink around 6 to 8 glasses of non-caffeinated beverages per day. However, at meal times, it is better to first finish eating and then drink fluids to avoid feeling full before the meal gets over.

Say YES to Milk & Cheese: Underweight COPD patients who need to put on some extra pounds are recommended to substitute water with milk. Drinking milk throughout the day can help to supply the body with excellent amounts of vitamin D, calcium and protein. This will promote weight gain, strengthen the bones and maintain a healthy musculoskeletal system. Cheese is a good source of calcium too. So, to maintain bone stability, one should include more cheese in COPD diet.

Increase Fiber-Rich Foods: It is important that a COPD diet contains about 25 to 30 grams of fiber everyday for the patient suffering from COPD to stay healthy. Bran, beans, brown rice, cereals and whole-grain breads, fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-sodium soups like split-pea, lentil or carrot soup are rich in fibre and can be added in the daily COPD diet to supply the body with a healthy dose of fibre and nutrients that it requires.

More Potassium-Rich Foods: Many COPD sufferers take diuretic medication to regularize their body fluids. However, these medications can decrease the level of potassium in the body and trigger many health issues. So, to offset this loss of potassium, COPD patients should follow a potassium-rich diet consisting of foods like bananas, potatoes, tomatoes and oranges.

Eggs, always a plus: For off-setting weight loss, COPD patients should add egg in their daily diet. However, eggs should not be eaten raw and should be cooked properly to keep certain types of food poisoning at bay. Ones worried about excessive cholesterol can eat cooked egg whites.

The Right COPD Snack: Underweight individuals suffering from COPD should eat healthy, nutritious, and high calorie snacks like crackers with low fat cheese, nuts and pudding cups.

Make Shakes & Smoothies a Part of COPD Diet: COPD patients can make their own shakes or smoothies by blending together low-fat milk or yogurt and fresh fruit like strawberry, bananas, etc. Low-fat shakes and smoothies need to be included in a COPD diet, as they are loaded with calcium and vitamin D, which can boost the immunity and improve the overall health of a person having COPD.

Starchy Vegetables, Very Important in COPD Diet: Starchy vegetables like beet, squash, corn and carrots are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and calories. By adding these foods to their daily diet, COPD patients can get the nutrition they need.

Don’t Forget Proteins: Each meal of a COPD patient should contain proteins. Protein-rich foods such as peanut butter, fish, poultry, nuts, lean meat, and legumes should be included in as a part of daily COPD diet. However, for some people it is not possible to get optimal amount of protein through their diet. These individuals can add compounds like protein, soy and non-fat dairy powders to their foods to get the recommended amount of protein.

What Foods to Avoid in a COPD Diet?

Certain foods are low in nutritional value, contain excess fats, and can trigger problems like gas and bloating. COPD patients should try limiting the intake of such foods. COPD patient should avoid consuming:

Say NO to Salt: Excessive dietary intake of sodium or salt is a strict NO-NO in a COPD diet, as it can cause water retention in the body, which can in turn cause breathing problems. COPD patients should restrict their salt intake to keep these problems at bay. They should avoid foods containing more than 300 mg of sodium per serving. Instead of salt, these people can add unsalted herbs and spices to flavour their food.

Avoid Certain Vegetables: Certain vegetables like cabbage, beans, Brussels sprouts, corn, cauliflower, leeks, peas, onions, scallions, soya, and peppers, and some fruits like apricots, apples, melons, and peaches can cause bloating, gas and even breathing troubles in some people. If COPD patients experience any such symptoms, they should avoid these foods in their COPD diet.

Limit the Caffeinated & Alcoholic Drinks: COPD patients should avoid or limit their intake of alcoholic beverages and caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee, sodas, and energy drinks as these can interfere with their COPD medications. Caffeine can also increase restlessness, nervousness and anxiety, and even worsen the symptoms of COPD. Chocolate also contains caffeine and should thus be consumed judiciously. Alcohol can also slow down the breathing rate in COPD patients and can make it harder for them to cough up mucus.

No Dairy Products for some COPD patients: For some people, dairy products like milk and cheese can make the phlegm thicker. These individuals should avoid these dairy foods in their COPD diet.

Avoid Fried Foods: Greasy, fried and deep fried foods can cause gas and indigestion. Even heavily spiced foods can cause discomfort and breathing problems. These foods also contain empty calories, which rather than providing energy, contributes to unhealthy weight gain. Being overweight can harm COPD patients to a great extent. So, these foods should be avoided as much as possible.

Maintaining good nutrition while dealing with COPD will no longer be difficult or boring, if patients follow the above mentioned dietary dos and don’ts in COPD.

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