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The Ideal Diet for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

copd diet

Story at-a-glance -

  • Your diet plays a major role insupplementing the treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Aside from modifying your diet, it’s important to make changes to the way you eat as well. Try these tips and see what works best for you

Your diet plays a major role in supplementing the treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). For example, if you continue to eat unhealthy food, your overall health will not improve because you’re not getting the nutrients your body needs to heal. If you’re struggling to figure out what you should eat while treating COPD, the following sections below may point you to the right direction.

Obesity Has Been Linked to Breathing Problems

Most people don’t know that your weight actually plays a role in your breathing. According to , excess abdominal fat may lower lung function, regardless of the age, smoking history or body mass index (BMI).

It is believed that fatty tissue constricts the lungs, making it hard to breathe. Furthermore, carrying extra weight around requires more physical effort on your part. Dr. Gail Weinmann from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Division of Lung Diseases compares excess weight to carrying a backpack, and for those who already have reduced lung capacity, “the extra weight would be like carrying suitcases.”1

To manage your weight properly, you will need to undergo a drastic change in your diet. Poor dietary choices are linked to weight gain, so it’s important you cut out processed and sugary foods. If you’re a frequent drinker, alcoholic beverages need to be eliminated because they contain lots of calories.

Dining out has been linked to weight gain as well.  According to SF Gate, there are several reasons that contribute to this problem:2

  • Serving sizes: A restaurant serving is typically several times more than what you’ll typically cook and eat at home, thus significantly increasing your caloric consumption.
  • Sweetened drinks: You may be served big glasses of sweetened juices or soda, both of which are loaded with sugar, which has been linked to weight gain and a host of other health problems.
  • Incorrect information: The nutritional data provided in restaurants is typically wrong. For example, meals considered to be 500 calories may actually be 590 calories instead.
  • Environment: Dining with friends may cause you to eat 35 percent more food than you actually need because the enjoyable atmosphere causes you to ignore signs that you are full.

Once you have these habits in check, incorporate the following foods into your diet to promote healthy weight:

Whole, organic vegetables of various kinds, as well as fruits and berries 

Unprocessed (or naturally prepared) probiotic foods such as natto, kimchi and yogurt

Grass fed meats and wild-caught fish

Fresh, sprouted greens

Healthy fats from avocado, raw unpasteurized nuts, olives, coconut oil and pasture-raised eggs

If You’re Underweight, You Need to Gain Some Weight

COPD can also cause you to lose weight due to lack of appetite and/or depression. If you notice that you’re on the thin side, you will need to consume more calories until you reach a healthy range.  Being too thin can make your body more prone to infections, and COPD causes you to expend  more energy as well.3  Consult with your doctor on your ideal caloric intake per day to promote healthy weight gain using the foods mentioned in the table above.

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Other Tips You Can Follow

Aside from  modifying your diet, it’s important to make changes to the way you eat as well. Try these tips and see what works best for you:4

  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day. Instead of following the usual routine of eating heavy meals during breakfast, lunch and dinner, split them into smaller but more frequent meals instead. This may help avoid filling up your stomach faster, giving your lungs more room to expand.
  • Eat smart. If your COPD causes you to fatigue right away, you should  eat foods that are easy to prepare, yet still healthy for your body. This will help prevent you from tiring out right away. You may also ask for help from family members to cook your food.
  • Prepare beforehand. In relation to the previous point, you may want to prepare big portions and split them up  so that you can avoid cooking later on in  the day.
  • Mind your posture. Sit up straight in a high-backed chair while eating to avoid putting pressure on your lungs.


COPD: An Introduction

What Is COPD?

COPD Symptoms

COPD Causes

COPD Stages

Types of COPD

COPD Treatment

COPD Life Expectancy

COPD Prevention



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