Can Certain Foods Help Manage COPD?

COPD is a progressive health condition that worsens with time. But by taking care of your health and overall wellness, you can work to live life to the fullest even with a COPD diagnosis.

You might not realize it, but the food you eat can affect your breathing. Your diet provides fuel for your body – and the right choices can help you breathe easier, feel energetic, and better manage your health.

Choosing what foods you eat every day can help you fuel your body with more oxygen and breathe easier. But in order to pick the right foods, it’s important to know which foods can guide you to better well-being and which can aggravate the symptoms of COPD. Add the following foods to your diet, and you may be able to better manage COPD and its effects on your body.

Brightly Colored Fruits

Benefits for COPD:

  • High levels of antioxidants can protect the lungs
  • Phytochemicals found in many fruits can prolong lung health
  • Can lower the risk of dying from COPD
  • Vitamin C can preserve lung health and lower the risk of worsening COPD

Add This Food to Your Diet By: Adding one serving, or approximately 100 grams, of brightly colored fruit to your diet each day. You can choose from any fruit with brilliant, citrus-like coloring, such as pears, oranges, grapefruit, apricots, and watermelons.

How It Works: Brightly colored fruits are considered a superfood for anyone living with COPD. These fruits contain high levels of antioxidants, Vitamin C, and other nutrients that can decrease COPD’s mortality risk by as much as 24 percent if eaten regularly.

Fatty Fish

Benefits for COPD:

  • Packed with protein, which many COPD sufferers can lack
  • Lean and low in fat
  • Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation
  • Omega-3 fatty acids can also speed up lungs’ ability to heal and repair damage

Add This Food to Your Diet By: Eating fish high in protein and full of lean fats, like salmon, herring, tuna, mackerel, and sardines.

How It Works: Many COPD sufferers live with protein deficiencies, which can cause the body to grow weaker due to muscle loss. Eating fatty fish is a great source of protein and it’s lean, which keeps you healthy. The omega-3 fatty acids found in these types of fish can also help reduce inflammation and help your lungs heal. Especially beneficial for COPD sufferers, fatty fish has been shown to help the lungs repair themselves after exposure to cigarette smoke, both over short- and long-term periods.

Soy

Benefits for COPD:

  • Can improve lung function if eaten regularly over time
  • Reduces breathlessness
  • Lessens coughing
  • Contains flavonoids, which have an anti-inflammatory effect on the lungs

Add This Food to Your Diet By: Eating foods that contain a lot of soy, like tofu, soy milk, bean sprouts, edamame (soybeans), and soy nuts. Incorporating these foods into your regular diet will ensure you get the maximum benefits of soy.

How It Works: The evidence that soy can help COPD is relatively new, but researchers have discovered there’s a connection between long-term soy consumption and the reduction of COPD symptoms. Eating foods high in soy regularly can improve your lungs’ function over time, help reduce instances of breathlessness, and even lessen coughing. And with anti-inflammatory properties, soy can also help protect the lungs.

Beans and Legumes

Benefits for COPD:

  • High in fiber
  • Contain zinc, which is recommended to help improve COPD symptoms
  • Can contain antioxidants to help with inflammation
  • Antioxidants can also help lungs breathe easier

Add This Food to Your Diet By: Adding beans and legumes into your meals throughout the day for as much fiber and protein as possible.

How It Works: Beans and legumes pack a powerful punch for those living with COPD. They’re high-fiber foods, and that fiber can offer added nutritional benefits while keeping you feeling full and satisfied. Beans and legumes also contain plenty of zinc, which has been found to help improve the symptoms of COPD.

Colorful Vegetables

Benefits for COPD:

  • Full of phytochemicals, which reduce damage to the body’s cells and can keep lungs healthy for longer
  • High in antioxidants, which reduces the mortality risk of COPD
  • Antioxidants found in vegetables can also protect lungs from further damage
  • Lowers the risk of current and former smokers developing COPD

Add This Food to Your Diet By: Aim to eat vegetables with lunch and dinner to work enough antioxidants and fiber into your daily diet. Vegetables that can have a positive effect on COPD symptoms include those with bright colors, like carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and broccoli.

How It Works: Like brightly colored fruits, many vegetables in a rainbow of colors can positively impact anyone living with COPD. Colorful vegetables can help the body’s cells better repair themselves, which will help the lungs repair damage and stay healthy for many more years. Additionally, vegetables contain antioxidants that can decrease your risk of dying from COPD.

Change Your Diet to Better Manage COPD Today

Making positive changes to your diet can bring serious benefits. From improved lung health and function to reduced COPD symptoms to a longer lifespan, adding the foods mentioned here can have a positive effect on your health if you’re living with COPD. Making small changes to your nutrition can have a huge effect on your overall health.

However, there are also some foods that anyone living with COPD should avoid. While the above foods can have a positive impact, others can actually cause symptoms to worsen. If you’ve been diagnosed with COPD, make sure to limit the following foods in your diet:

  • Salt, which can cause water retention and make breathing difficult
  • Apples, which can cause bloating, gas, and breathing problems
  • Brussel sprouts, which can also cause bloating, gas, and breathing problems
  • Dairy products like milk and cheese, which can thicken phlegm in some COPD sufferers
  • Fried foods, which can leave you with gas and indigestion

These foods should be eaten in moderation, or avoided altogether if they cause your COPD to worsen.

By choosing more of the good-for-you foods mentioned here and avoiding those that can aggravate COPD symptoms, you can live your life to the fullest.

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