Balanced Diet & Nutritional Tips for Lung Health

If you suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or other respiratory health conditions, you may notice that eating certain foods may affect your breathing. Consuming a balanced diet with the right mix of nutrients can make breathing easier. Below are some general nutritional tips on foods that can help you.

How Does My Diet Relate to My Breathing?

Metabolism is the body’s process of changing food to fuel. Oxygen and food are the raw materials of the process, and energy and carbon dioxide are the finished products.

When our bodies metabolize simple carbohydrates, such as a slice of cake, we use more energy and therefore use up more oxygen. That process can leave us short of breath. Eating a diet with fewer simple carbohydrates and more healthy fats can help you breathe easier.

Nutritional Tips

The American Lung Association is a great resource for lung health & disease management. Some of their recommended guidelines for a balanced diet include:

  • Eat Complex Carbohydrates– such as whole-grain bread and pasta, vegetables, and beans
  • Limit Simple Carbohydrates– such as candy, cake, and soft drinks
  • Limit Foods that cause Bloating– foods such as legumes, cause gas and bloating making breathing difficult
  • Increase your Fiber– aim to eat 20-30 grams of fiber from foods such as nuts, seeds, or oatmeal
  • Eat High Protein Foods– such as grass-fed meats, eggs, milk, and fish such as salmon
  • Consume Healthy Fats– avocados, coconut and coconut oil, olives and olive oil, and cheese are great choices
  • Limit Saturated Fat- foods cooked in lard, vegetable oils, or fried foods should be avoided
  • Consider a Multivitamin– adding calcium and vitamin D could benefit COPD patients who take steroids
  • Limit Your Sodium– foods with too much sodium may cause swelling and increased blood pressure
  • Stay Hydrated– remember to drink 6-8 glasses (8 fl oz each) of water throughout your day and limit caffeine
  • Eat Smaller Meals– this helps the muscle under your lungs move freely and lets your lungs expand easily

Weigh In

Weighing yourself on a regular basis can help you and your health care provider keep track of how your diet is going. Various health complications could result from being underweight or overweight. When your body is well-nourished, it is better equipped to handle infections and respond to treatments.

The Takeaway

It is important to monitor your diet to ensure you are getting the right mixture of nutrients for your overall health, especially if you suffer from COPD. Keep in mind that the ideal diet will vary depending on a person’s weight and lifestyle and each person’s needs are different. Always talk to your health care provider or a registered dietitian nutritionist to help you get started with a balanced diet.