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Published on March 16, 2017

Menu makeover: Eating well with COPD

Eat better, breathe better?

Eating WellIt might sound a little strange, but if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), your diet can have an impact on how well your lungs work.

“COPD can vary in severity,” says Donna Raziano, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Mercy Home Health. “And, generally, if your lung disease is more severe, it can be taxing on your body. You may be using a lot of energy—or calories—to breathe. So you need to make sure your diet meets the demands of your respiratory rate.”

How do you do that? Dr. Raziano suggests focusing on a well-balanced diet that includes:

  1. Protein from eggs, lean meats and dairy products. If milk thickens your mucus, choose yogurt and cheese.
  2. A good amount of fiber—gained from eating fruits; vegetables; and whole-grain products, like whole-grain bread and pasta.
  3. A limited amount of added sugars, candies, sweet bakery products and sugary soft drinks.
  4. Plenty of water. Not only will water ease a dry mouth; it will help thin mucus. Aim to drink six to eight glasses a day.

You also might want to switch to eating four to six small meals every day. Eating smaller amounts of food may help you breathe better. Also, eat your food slowly.

Sometimes indigestion becomes a problem for people with COPD, Dr. Raziano says. In that case, avoid foods that can make you feel full and gassy, such as beans and cabbage.

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