Girl blowing dandelion

Nutrition & The Lungs

Nutrition is very important for every body and that goes double for people suffering from chronic diseases such as COPD, emphysema, and/or chronic bronchitis. Learning what kind of foods to eat, how much to eat, and how often to eat can make a big difference for many people.

Less Carbohydrates and More Fats

People suffering from chronic lung disease may find a low carb, higher fat diet can make a big difference in their life. Food provides the body with energy (calories) from three types of sources - protein, fat, and carbohydrates. As the body converts these sources into energy, oxygen is used and carbon dioxide(CO2) is produced. CO2 is a significant factor in causing shortness of breath. One calorie of fat will produce less CO2 than a calorie from one of the other two sources and should have less impact on the respiratory system. However, please be aware that calories are needed from each group and no group should be removed from your diet completely.

Don't Over Eat

Eating too much at one sitting can make a person very miserable and for people with chronic lung disease over eating can leave them gasping for air and possibly lead to a medical emergency in extreme cases. This happens as a result of the stomach getting full and taking up more room inside the body. The lungs need room to expand and contract as we breathe in and out. A full stomach can greatly reduce our ability to move air in and out of the lungs. Since people with COPD, emphysema, and/or bronchitis already have a reduced ability to breathe in and out, a full stomach can easily lead to hours of suffering with shortness of breath.

Eat Small Meals & Eat Often

People with chronic lung disease typically burn more calories than "healthy" people because of an increased work of breathing. It is very important to get enough calories in your body every day. As stated above, it is not a good idea to eat a bunch of food at one sitting. So, the best thing to do would be to eat several small meals during the day. However, many people find it difficult to eat more than 3 meals a day (even if they are small meals). For these people, a nutritional supplement drink may help to meet their daily requirements.