In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD for short, breathing is impaired by a narrowing of the bronchi. With the progression of the disease, also known colloquially as smoking lung, it becomes increasingly difficult to supply the body with sufficient oxygen. A change in diet is an important component of COPD treatment and enables those affected to actively counteract the course of this lung disease.
Balanced nutrition in smoker's lung
For COPD patients, it is particularly important to eat a healthy and varied diet. This not only basically serves the health and strengthens the immune system.
A COPD-appropriate diet also reduces the risk of respiratory infections and allergic reactions. Which diet is suitable for COPD depends on the patient's situation.
COPD increases energy demand
To burn nutrients from food, the body needs oxygen. The energy released during combustion is, in turn, needed among other things for the respiratory muscles. A limited oxygen uptake affects the metabolism - and vice versa.
In addition, the difficult breathing causes an up to ten times higher energy consumption. COPD patients must therefore be careful to eat high in energy.
Because when the body lacks energy, it reduces muscle protein - among other things, this reduces the muscles of the respiratory system and the diaphragm. This will further increase respiratory distress and further reduce the overall resilience of the COPD patient.
BMI determines the ideal weight
Body weight plays a crucial role in the course of COPD disease. Ideally, the BMI (body mass index) should be between 21 and 25. Overweight and underweight can severely affect the health of COPD patients.
For example, obesity can aggravate breathing problems as the lungs and cardiovascular system are exposed to greater stress. As a result, concomitant diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease can occur.
Underweight in COPD
Most COPD patients are underweight, which is often due to loss of appetite and high energy requirements. This makes them more susceptible to infections and muscle atrophy.
If the food does not provide sufficient calories, protein, trace elements and vitamins, it also leads to deficiency symptoms, weight loss and an increased reduction of essential amino acids. Since the latter are used for energy, their lack of weight loss is additionally accelerated.
Nutritional advice for COPD patients
Because of their high energy requirements, sufferers of this lung disease need to change their diets in terms of quantity and diet. Even overweight people can suffer from malnutrition if the diet is not right.
Nutrition counseling can help COPD patients change their eating and drinking habits to meet their changing needs.
Nutrition Tips for COPD
In COPD, the diet should be wholesome, low in fat and rich in nutrients and carbohydrates. Please note the following nutrition tips:
- Low-fat meat, legumes and dairy products are a good source of protein.
- There are many carbohydrates in potatoes and grains.
- Good combinations of protein and carbohydrates are grains or potatoes with dairy products.
- Fruits and vegetables provide important vitamins and nutrients. However, avoid beans, cabbage and sour fruits as these foods can cause gas formation in the body.
- Underweight meals can be fortified with vegetable fats and nuts.
- Nitrite or salt food can make breathing difficult.
- Calcium lowers the risk of osteoporosis, which is common with COPD.
- Magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids strengthen the immune system and help against inflammation in the body.
A daily supplementation with essential amino acids may be advisable, but should be discussed with a doctor.
The right eating habits
Not only the choice of food is crucial. Eating behavior also plays an important role in COPD:
- Cough the mucus before eating to avoid shortness of breath during the meal.
- Take time to eat and chew thoroughly.
- Many small meals relieve the digestive system and the lungs.
- Eat less especially in the evening and allow your body enough time to digest before bedtime.
- Watch your body's response to specific foods and adjust your diet as needed. Some foods cause increased gas formation in the body and thus increase the pressure on the lungs and diaphragm.
- Drink enough liquid - this helps with coughing and thus frees the airways. Well suited are still water, tea and juice spritzers. Do not drink until after eating so as not to get full in too early, and avoid alcoholic, highly sugared and carbonated drinks.
Combine exercise and nutrition
Nutritional therapy in COPD should always be accompanied by regular exercise - it strengthens muscles, maintains mobility and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.