Apart from difficulty in breathing or shortness in breath, bloating and gas are some of the other very commonly found symptoms of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). It is estimated that more than half of COPD patients have stomach and digestive-related issues. They feel sated even with small quantities of food, some feel as if their belly has bloated, and many have issues with gas and frequent flatulence. They could also go through an uncontrollable cough during or after a meal and have nausea induced by the cough. These stomach-related issues together are termed as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Conversely, GERD can also increase the symptoms of COPD as the acids from the stomach can irritate the lungs. All these could be controlled by diet. Severe GERD symptoms can exacerbate COPD and might require hospitalization. This article talks about the foods to eat and avoid for COPD patients.
The following foods can be included in a COPD patient’s diet:
A good amount of vegetables that are high in nutrition can improve digestion and prevent any stomach-related diseases; it also helps in improving lung function. Leafy green vegetables, asparagus, cucumbers, squash, pumpkin, potatoes are some of the vegetables that are highly recommended for COPD. You can steam or bake the vegetables instead of frying them in oil.
Ginger is highly recommended for both COPD and GERD. Its anti-inflammatory properties help clear the airways for COPD, as well as heartburn, and gas caused by GERD. Add ginger to herbal tea, salads, and smoothies. A teaspoon of ginger every day is recommended.
Except for citrus fruits, you can eat fruits like apples, grapes, cranberries, and bananas. Avoid fruit juices and have fresh fruit instead. If you have fruit juices, it’s best to avoid sugar.
You can include more herbal and green tea and reduce caffeine to the minimum or avoid it completely. Do not add mint to your green or herbal tea.
Low-fat yogurt, jelly and ice milk are options for safe desserts. Ice-cold desserts can trigger cough in people with COPD, and hence such desserts should be consumed at a favorable temperature.
Avoid these foods
GERD is caused typically when the acid from the stomach flows into the esophagus. This can cause an increase in the volume of the lungs affecting air flow — this is one of the common causes for COPD. So any food that triggers GERD should be avoided, as it could, in turn, lead to COPD. The following foods should be avoided to prevent the onset of COPD:
- ● Any fried and oily food
- Spicy food like curry, sauces, and chili
- Whole and rich dairy products like cheese, butter, cream
- Fried meat
- Animal fat
- Fatty cuts of meat
- Carbonated drinks and alcohol
- Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli can cause gas
Some individuals might not react well to mint, garlic, and onion. They should avoid such foods as it can worsen the symptoms of COPD.