Foods to Avoid for Respiratory Problems

Today, millions of people across the world are suffering from respiratory diseases. Although, the advancement of medical science has made it possible to fight these problems through innovative procedures and treatments, it is important that patients do their bit to take charge of their health. By leading a regulated lifestyle and having a healthy diet, the patients can manage their respiratory problems and improve their quality of life effectively. The types of food one eats can adversely affect their health. For sufferers of chronic lung diseases and respiratory issues, certain foods can trigger symptom flare-ups.

Foods to Avoid for Respiratory Problems

Foods To Avoid For Respiratory Problems

Some foods to avoid for respiratory problems are:

  • Cold Cuts – Additives called nitrates are present in most cured meats like cold cuts, bacon, ham, and hotdogs. Nitrates are often added to these meats for color or to extend their shelf life. Studies suggest that added nitrates heighten the risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) related hospital re-admissions. Hence, cold cuts is surely one of the foods to avoid for respiratory problems.
  • Excessive Salt – Adding a small pinch of salt to a dish while cooking is fine, but having an excessive salt-packed diet is unhealthy. As salt can cause excess water retention in the body, which can further lead to breathing problems, it is tops the list of foods to avoid for respiratory problems. Instead of using salt or salt substitutes, it is advisable to add herbs and spices to foods for enhancing their flavor and taste.
  • Dairy Products – Dairy products can worsen the symptoms in people suffering from lung disease. Although milk is nutritious and packed with calcium, it also contains casomorphin which is known to increase mucus in the intestines. During flare-ups, lung and respiratory disease patients often experience a rise in mucus. So, for many, dairy products are some of the foods to avoid with respiratory problems. Although this relationship is still not clear, scientists have stimulated mucus production from respiratory cells by adding casomorphin to them, in the laboratory.
  • Cruciferous Vegetables – The uncomfortable symptoms of gas and bloating tend to make breathing difficult for people with lung disease. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and radish are loaded with nutrients and fiber, but their consumption should be limited if they cause extra gas in a particular person. So, while you can enjoy its nutritional benefits, they can be a part of foods to avoid for respiratory problems, if they cause gas or abdominal discomfort.
  • Fried Foods – Fried foods often cause digestive troubles and can cause bloating and discomfort by pushing on the diaphragm, which makes breathing difficult. Excessive consumption of fried food over time can lead to weight gain, which in turn can increase pressure on the lungs apart from irritating the throat and aggravating cough in some people. These foods are loaded with unhealthy fats which raise the bad cholesterol levels in the body, and thus increase the risk for heart disease. So, for respiratory problems, it is best to avoid fried foods like French fries, onion rings, and fried chicken, and try replacing them with healthy alternatives.
  • Carbonated Beverages – Loaded with sugar, empty calories and lots of carbonation, carbonated beverages cause increased bloating and weight gain. These are harmful for health by all means and are surely one of the foods to avoid for respiratory problems. Carbonated beverages like sodas, sparkling wine or sparkling cider also lead to dehydration. So, when thirsty, one should hydrate them self by drinking plain water.
  • Acidic Foods and Drinks – A ring of muscles form a valve at the end of the esophagus. If this valve fails to seal or open efficiently, stomach acid tends to move into the esophagus, causing heartburn. Frequent heartburns, i.e. more than twice a week, is indicative of acid reflux disease. Acid reflux can aggravate the symptoms in lung disease patients. Hence, acidic foods are the most important foods to avoid for respiratory problems. It is best to avoid or limit the intake of acidic foods and drinks like fruit juice, citrus fruits, tomato sauce, spicy foods and coffee for reducing the acid reflux, lung disease and respiratory complaints like breathing problems.


Everyone likes to eat well, but for people with respiratory problems, it is more important to eat healthy. Knowing these foods to avoid for respiratory problems can help to plan a healthy diet routine. Healthy eating habits, coupled with proper treatments, can greatly help to improve the quality of life for people with respiratory problems. However, considering the nutritional requirements, it is best to consult a doctor before making any changes to the diet.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 8, 2019

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