Patients living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have to monitor their health closely in concert with their pulmonologists and other health providers. For some patients, low body weight is a problem. Known medically as cachexia, a severely low body mass index (BMI) can exacerbate COPD systems and lead to further health problems, such as anemia and digestive issues. It is important for such patients to get a quality, high-calorie diet.
Calories are the food energy the body uses for everyday functions. Everything from walking to simply breathing burns calories. There are four basic sources of calories: alcohol, carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
Obviously, COPD patients will want to avoid alcohol intake. Carbohydrates, though, play a vital role in daily calorie consumption. Made up of sugars and starches, carbs provide short-term energy and are quickly consumed with activity. Extra carbs are stored as fat.
Fat consumption is not necessarily a bad thing. Fats can provide long-term fuel for ongoing activity. Also, fats are a critical component of the nervous system, as the sheaths that insulate nerve cells are composed of fat. Unsaturated fats are a healthier choice than saturated ones, and trans fats should always be avoided.
Protein consumption is essential, particularly lean protein that is low in saturated fat. Proteins are the primary building blocks for muscle and is especially valuable to patients with muscle atrophy, or wasting.
Below are some great healthy foods for supplying necessary calories to those that suffer from COPD.
Not only is chicken an extremely versatile food that can be used in almost any recipe, but it provides lean protein for maintaining muscle mass. However, there are some things to keep in mind to reduce bad fat intake when eating chicken. First, always grill or bake chicken. Fried chicken often contains trans fats. Second, choose skinless chicken. This will provide protein without the saturated fat.
Tuna and Salmon
These two types of fish are another excellent source of protein, but also contain healthy fatty acids. They’re also downright delicious when prepared properly. Again, grill or bake the fish and avoid frying.
Technically a fruit, avocados are packed with essential nutrients and good fats. Whether enjoyed as guacamole or simply sliced and eaten raw, avocados are always a healthy choice for caloric intake.
Nuts provide both protein and fat calories. Almonds, peanuts, and walnuts are all great options. Also, nut butters are usually equally good, as long as they don’t contain too much extra sugar. Try enjoying a nut butter on whole grain toast.
Whole Grain Bread and Pastas
These foods are packed with carbohydrates. Whole grains are the healthy choice because they provide crucial nutrients instead of just processed sugars, like “white” bread.
Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients and are delicious either baked whole or sliced and grilled. They offer carbohydrate calories but with more vitamins than white potatoes. Instead of adding brown sugar to a baked potato, try cinnamon and a tiny dash of nutmeg.