Eating Well to Breathe Easier
If you have a condition that affects your lungs, have you considered that your diet may influence your lung function? Although you may take medications to aid your breathing or you may receive oxygen therapy, you shouldn't forget the importance of a diet rich in nutrients known to protect your lungs. Read on to discover the important role that each food groups plays in preserving the health of your lungs.
Starchy foods for energy
Your energy requirements are higher if you have a lung
condition such as COPD, bronchiectasis or lung cancer. This
is partly because when breathing becomes difficult, you use
more energy per breath. To meet your increased energy needs,
you need to include enough starchy foods in your diet.
Starchy foods provide glucose, which your body uses to
release energy. If you get full quickly, you may find high
fibre versions, such as wholemeal bread, whole wheat pasta
and brown rice, too filling. However, if you are able to
include high fibre carbohydrates in your diet, they are a
good source of B vitamins, which also play a role in energy
release. Try to include a portion of starchy foods with each
Fruits and vegetables for antioxidants
Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables are packed
with antioxidants. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants is
beneficial, as they protect the cells of your lungs from
further damage. Additionally, the antioxidants beta-carotene
and vitamin C support your immune system, helping to reduce
your risk of lung infections, which are often more common
when you have a condition affecting your lungs. If you
struggle to stand long enough to prepare fresh fruits and
vegetables, canned and frozen varieties still
offer nutrition. Aim to eat a range of different coloured
fruits and vegetables each day to maximize your intake
of dietary antioxidants.
Proteins to support your muscles
If your energy requirements are higher, you are more
likely to experience muscle wasting. You not only lose
muscle from your limbs, but you also lose muscle from your
organs, including the muscles between your ribs that help
you to breathe. Increasing your intake of dietary proteins,
such as meat, fish, eggs, beans and nuts, is therefore
advisable to help replace your muscle tissue. Try to
include protein-rich foods two or three times each day.
Dairy foods to support your bones
Although you may avoid dairy produce, as you believe milk
proteins increase mucus production, there isn't enough
evidence to prove this. As a result, unless you have a
diagnosed intolerance or allergy to milk, you should include
around three portions of dairy foods daily. It is especially
important to include enough dairy produce if you take
steroids, as steroids place you at higher risk of
osteoporosis. If you cannot eat dairy produce, canned fish
with edible bones, leafy greens, seeds, dried fruit, nuts,
pulses and bread are alternative sources of calcium.
Healthy fats reduce inflammation
Inflammation contributes to the development and progression of chronic lung problems, so taking measures to reduce inflammation is helpful. As omega-3 fats have anti- inflammatory properties, try to include oily fish in your diet each week. If you don't eat fish, canola oil, walnuts and flaxseeds offer another source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Health Disclaimer. Copyright ©2014. Published with permission. Amy is a freelance writer and is not directly affiliated with avivahealth.com.
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