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Portable Oxygen Concentrator Resource Center

COPD: Avoid or Limit These 7 Foods

Posted by Caleb Umstead on Aug 25, 2014 11:39:03 AM


There are many lifestyle changes that are in order upon the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and one of the most important changes you can make is your diet. Did you know that as a COPD patient you can require up to 10 times more calories compared to a person without COPD, this is because your body with COPD burns excessive amounts of energy breathing. Though it may be needed to consume up to 10 times more calories, it is extremely important that you monitor what you eat because what you eat can directly impact your symptoms. COPD friendly food groups include veggies, fruits, lean meats, fish, and nuts, but the type of foods that worsen COPD symptoms are:

7 Foods That Worsen COPD Symptoms

Sodium: Consuming excess amounts of sodium can lead to fluid retention, which is when your body retains too much water effectively making it harder for you to breathe. When shopping or cooking meals you should look for foods that have 300 mg or less of sodium per serving. Food such as cured meat is often high in sodium. Also be aware of many sodium substitutes, due to them often containing high levels of potassium which can cause complications with certain medications. Look for natural, sodium free spices and herbs as these can make any boring dish POP with extravagant flavor! Once you get on this routine you will find it easier and easier to seclude sodium intake from your diet.

Carbonated and Sugary Beverages: As for many people carbonated drinks were a staple of childhood and adolescence, but as a COPD patient these tasty beverages can have negative effects on your health. Upon consumption sugary beverages fill your stomach, causing it to expand leading to an increased difficulty in your breathing. These are loaded with sugar and caffeine, even "diet" sodas are terrible for you and have ZERO nutritional value. So ditch the sugary drinks and substitute 6 - 8 eight ounce cups of water per day. Excess caffeine consumption will also lead to problems sleeping, which further exacerbates symptoms and leaving you with less energy.

Milk: This should be assessed on a patient to patient basis as not all patients suffer from excess mucus production from the consumption of milk. If you experience thicker mucus after the consumption of dairy products such as milk or ice cream, then think about avoiding them and talk to your doctor about additional methods of getting calcium and vitamin D. Great options include lactose free products, and calcium rich food or beverages, you should aim to have 3 cups daily.

Cured Meats: These include bacon, ham, cold cuts or other deli related meats can pose a big problem in COPD patients when consumed in excess amounts, due to their nitrate composition. A study done by the European Respiratory Journal suggests people who consume more than one slice of cured meats, are more likely to have a run in with a COPD flare-up or even end up in the hospital.

Shrimp: Normally shrimp is loaded with sulfites in order to preserve their look, and this causes big problems for COPD patients. Once digesting sulfites they can causes your airways to narrow effectively increasing breathing difficulty.

Greasy, Fried Food: Though fried chicken or a greasy hamburger may taste good, it is also causing further complications with your COPD. In fact the consumption of these greasy and often fried foods causes your stomach to bloat and fill with gases, when this occurs your stomach pushes against your diaphragm restricting how much your lungs can expand leading to breathing troubles.

Citrus Foods: Many citrus foods are packed with high amounts of vitamin C such as oranges, though vitamin C has numerous nutritional factors, it can be cause acid reflex which can further impact COPD symptoms. If you notice an influx of certain symptoms after drinking citrus filled juices, opt to avoid them and talk to your doctor about other methods of receiving vitamin C.

COPD Beneficial Foods:

  • Whole Grains - You should aim to eat 6 oz of whole grain each day, which can include whole grain cereal, bread, crackers, or rice to name a few.

  • Vegetables - We've been told our whole lives to eat plenty of veggies, and the same applies with COPD. Eat 2.5 cups of fresh veggies daily such as dark green and orange veggies.

  • Fruits - Each day you should consume a minimum of 2 cups of fruit. These can be fresh, frozen, or canned veggies which also cut down on preparation time.

  • Meat and Beans - Choose to eat low fat or lean meats and poultry such as skinless chicken, which are even more delectable on the grill.  Try to eat 5.5 oz of lean meat or poultry on a daily basis. You can always switch up the methods of getting protein, try fish, beans, nuts, or peas for an alternate and tasty source.

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+Caleb Umstead

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