Living with COPD: 5 Pieces of Nutrition Advice for COPD Patients

If you are diagnosed with COPD, your doctor might have suggestions for simple diet changes to help keep your body stronger and well-nourished. Having COPD means your body burns more calories than it did before, which explains why many people with COPD lose much weight without having done anything differently. This is because their bodies have to work harder to breathe and to get oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.

Eating more calories doesn't mean you have to eat a bunch of junk food all the time. Your body also needs plenty of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants, which will help your body function better and strengthen your immune system.

Here are the specifics on what you should be eating, how you should be eating, and what you should be avoiding if you have COPD.

1. Eat The Best of the Food Groups

When it comes to grains, such as bread and pasta, go from whole grains as much as possible.

Lean cuts of meat are high in protein without the saturated fat. Go for lean cuts and eat much oily fish, like salmon mackerel and sardines, which contain omega-3 fatty acids. If you don't like fish or you're allergic, walnuts and almonds contain these essential fatty acids.

Dark red berries and bananas are great, while fruits like apples, avocados, and melons can cause bloating, which can lead to breathing problems. Dark berries contain lots of antioxidants and bananas have potassium.

As for vegetables, know what causes bloating for you and what doesn't. For the most part, you can eat Brussels sprouts, corn, leeks, onions, peas, peppers, and many other delicious veggies.

Dairy can be a problem because it can make phlegm thicker. If it doesn't do this to you, you can still have all the milk and cheese you want.

2. Avoid the Bad Foods

Too much is troublesome for anyone. Avoid processed foods as much as possible, and don't add salt to your meal. Foods containing less than 300g of sodium per serving are recommended.

Foods containing caffeine such as chocolate and coffee should be avoided, as caffeine is a diuretic, and it can interfere with medications.

Deep fried, fried or spicy foods can cause indigestion and bloating.

3. Drink the Right Liquids

Your doctor might tell you to avoid alcohol or tell you only to drink a certain amount. Alcohol can slow down your breathing rate and contribute to mucus production.

Limit coffee, caffeinated tea, and soda, or cut it out completely. Water and non-caffeinated beverages are your best bet, and you should drink 6 to 8 8 oz glasses per day unless your doctor says otherwise.

4. Maintaining a Healthy Weight

With the help of your doctor or a dietician, you can work on maintaining a healthy weight for your height. Being underweight and overweight are both unhealthy, and your diet may be adjusted to get you back in the right zone.

5. Design a Meal Plan That Works For You

This isn't as complicated as it might sound, but a little preparation goes a long way. It's best to et 5 or 6 small meals a day, with a main meal early in the day so you have plenty of energy right at the beginning. Choose foods that are easy to prepare, so you aren't expending too much energy trying to cook.

Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), talk to your doctor or primary care provider.

Page last updated: October 2, 2018


About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

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