Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) means finding ways to breathe easier, but shortness of breath – dyspnea – doesn’t only affect your lungs. Shortness of breath can also make it difficult to eat, leading to another common complication of COPD: malnutrition.
According to the American Lung Association, some COPD patients require 10 times as many calories to breathe than a healthy person. Following a diet that gives your body enough energy for breathing and eating is critical with COPD. Prolonged malnutrition leads to unhealthy weight loss and is linked to a decrease in survival among COPD patients.
The COPD Diet
Eating a healthy diet won’t cure COPD, but it will help you maintain a healthy weight, breathe easier and give your body the fuel it needs for your daily activities. Incorporate the tips below into your COPD weight-management plan:
Drink lots of fluids
Strive to drink at least six to eight glasses (8 oz) daily of water or non-caffeinated beverages. This helps thin mucus and make it easier to cough up.
Eat small, high calorie meals throughout the day
Eating smaller meals more frequently will help you feel less full, making it easier to breathe. Foods that are higher in calories will help you get the extra calories you need to maintain or gain weight.
Continue oxygen therapy while you eat
COPD patients require more energy to eat and digest food, which means more oxygen is necessary. If your doctor has prescribed continuous oxygen therapy, you should wear your oxygen cannula even when you eat.
Eat high fiber foods
Foods high in fiber are great for digestion because they move through your digestive tract easier. Load up on whole grains, rice, fresh fruit and vegetables to get the recommended 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily.
To find out how many calories your body needs to gain or maintain a healthy weight, speak with your doctor.
Visit the BlackDoctor.org COPD center for more articles.