Important Components of Your Diet
Protein is important for people with COPD. It produces antibodies (ant-tee-bodies) that fight infection. The main sources of protein are meat, fish, eggs, poultry, legumes, and dairy products.
To Get More Protein in Your Diet
- Add skim milk powder to hot milk, cereal, eggs, soups, casseroles, gravies, and ground meat dishes. This will add extra protein and calcium to your diet.
- Add chopped, high-protein poultry, meats, cheese, nuts, or legumes to soups, casseroles, and vegetables.
- Blend finely chopped hard-boiled egg or egg substitute into a sauce, gravy, or soup.
- Include high protein snacks such as pasteurized eggnog, instant breakfast, and puddings in your diet.
- Have peanut butter, bean dips, nuts, cottage cheese, or other cheese with snacks to add additional protein and calories.
- Try using double strength milk (add 1 cup powdered milk to 1 quart whole milk).
Drinking enough fluids is important for people with COPD. Fluids help thin and clear out lung secretions. Fluids keep you hydrated and prevent constipation. Water may be the best fluid for your health, but fruit juices, decaffeinated coffee, and tea are also good choices. Milk provides needed nutrients.
A Fluid-Restricted Diet
Your healthcare provider may put you on a fluidrestricted diet. Ask your healthcare provider or dietitian to help you plan what to eat and drink. Fluid retention can be caused by medicines. It can also be caused by your COPD, and sometimes it is caused by eating too much salt.
Salt (or sodium)
Too much salt in your diet can cause you to retain fluids. It can also increase your blood pressure and shortness of breath.
To Reduce Salt in Your Diet:
- Do not add salt while making food or on food served at the table.
- Read labels and ingredients on all foods. Avoid those that contain salt.
- Read the sodium content on food labels. Look for products with less than 140 mg sodium per serving or labeled “low sodium.”
- Cured, smoked, and canned meats, bologna, frankfurters, ham, and salami
- Regular canned vegetables, soups, and vegetable juices
- Salted snacks (nuts, pretzels, chips)
- Regular frozen meals
- Foods in brine (pickles, olives, sauerkraut, feta cheese)
- Regular processed cheeses
- Seasoned salt, meat tenderizer, MSG, soy sauce, barbeque sauce
Calcium (cal-see-um) helps with lung function, muscle contraction and blood clotting. Calcium also plays an important role in keeping your bones strong, helping the immune system, and transporting nerve impulses.
Many people with COPD take corticosteroid (kort-tecoe-stair-royd) drugs. These drugs can speed up theloss of calcium in both men
Osteoporosis (ah-stee-oh-pah-row-sis), a condition of weak bones, can occur. Talk with your healthcare provider about the risk of osteoporosis.
Dairy products are the main source of calcium. If you cannot eat dairy, choose foods carefully to make sure you get enough calcium. Calcium is not easily absorbed. Vitamin D helps. Make sure your diet includes good sources of Vitamin D.
Milk Does NOT Create More Mucus
Many people believe that drinking cow’s milk will create extra mucus in their nose, throat, and lungs. This is not true. The fats in milk can leave a soft, filmy coating in your throat and mouth. This may make you feel like you have extra mucus in your throat. Milk is an important part of a good diet. It contains calcium, protein, vitamins A, D, and B-12 and riboflavin.
Magnesium (mag-knee-zee-um) is the “fuel” that makes muscles work. It is also an important mineral that is involved in blood clotting, muscle contraction, and protein production. A low level of magnesium weakens the muscles, including the breathing muscles.
Dark green vegetables are rich natural sources of magnesium. Magnesium may also be found in whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, tofu, and some seafood. Chocolate contains some magnesium. Foods made from refined flours (like white bread) have 80 percent less magnesium than whole grain flours.
Phosphorus (foss-for-us) helps in the building and repairing of tissues and in the formation of bone. Most people get this by eating meat, poultry, eggs, and milk products. Talk with your healthcare provider about your phosphorous levels.
Potassium (poe-taa-see-um) is required for muscle contractions. It is very important for the heart muscle. High or low levels of potassium can cause an irregular heartbeat. Foods high in potassium include: milk, yogurt, winter squash, tomatoes, apricots, cantaloupe, bananas, oranges, prunes, carrots, potatoes, raisins, spinach, and dates.