Eating and Exercising Well with COPD
Don’t forget that nutrition plays a role when you have
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Follow these tips:
- If you generally don’t have much of an appetite (this is
common with COPD), don’t wait until you feel hungry to eat.
- Consider eating six small meals a day instead of three
larger ones. This can help avoid the stomach fullness that can make it harder
- Drink plenty of water, unless your doctor has
recommended otherwise. Water can help to keep your mucous thin and easier to
get rid of when you cough.
- Choose foods that are easy to prepare, rather than using
up your energy on making complicated meals.
Avoid the following foods:
- Extra salt. This can cause you to keep too much
fluid in your body, which in turn can make it harder for you to breathe.
- Foods that make you feel bloated: These are the
foods that also make you feel “gassy.” They’re different for everybody, and
trial and error is the only way to know how foods affect you personally.
- Caffeine: This can make you feel jittery and
jumpy, burning up energy you would be better off conserving. Caffeine can also
interact dangerously with some drugs, so talk with your doctor or pharmacist
if you do consume caffeinated drinks and are on medication.
- Non-nutritious foods: It’s best if you focus on
eating only foods that are beneficial for you, such as fruits, vegetables,
whole grains, lean meats, fish, etc. Snacks and sweets may ruin your appetite
for the healthier stuff that you really need.
Building lung capacity with COPD
If you have a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or
COPD, such as emphysema or asthma, it might seem like exercising is the last
thing you should do. When you’re not used to doing it, it can be a lot of work.
But if you avoid exercise because of shortness of breath,
you could be starting a downward spiral—feeling afraid to exercise because it’s
hard to breath, exercising even less, allowing your lungs to become even more
out of shape, which makes exercise even harder.
Before starting an exercise program, talk with your doctor
to make sure it’s safe. Then, make the commitment to regular activity. Don’t
exercise in sudden bursts of energy—do gradually and smoothly. Take a few
moments of rest if you feel like you need to, then continue. And don’t exercise
on a full stomach.
American Association for Respiratory Care; American Journal of Respiratory and Clinical Care Medicine; American Lung Association;