Recent studies suggest that some of these foods, even though nutritious, may worsen COPD symptoms in a small number of patients, increasing cough and mucus production, and possibly even worsening shortness of breath.
If your symptoms get worse after eating certain foods, it may not be a coincidence. Start paying close attention to how your body reacts to the foods you eat, especially the ones from the following list. If you can identify a pattern, you may be able to pinpoint which food is responsible for your problematic reaction. Once the food is identified, you can choose to either limit, or eliminate it completely, from your daily diet.
1. Limit Foods That Increase Mucus and Cough
- Pork, chicken, fish, and red or processed meats
- Sweets and desserts
- French fries and other fried dishes
- Noodle dishes, especially those containing white pasta
- Preserved and processed foods
- Refined grains
2. Cut Down on Foods That Cause Gas and Bloating
- Brussel sprouts
- Bok choy
- Fried chicken and other fried, greasy foods
- Carbonated beverages
3. Go Easy on Nitrates
- Hot dogs
- Cold cuts and other processed luncheon meats
4. Watch Out for Food Allergens
- Wheat and cereals that contain glutens
- Peanuts (one of the most allergenic foods that cause severe, often fatal allergic reactions)
- Tree nuts, such as hazel nuts, walnuts or pecans
- Crustaceans including crab, shrimp or lobster and mollusks such as snails or oysters
Remember, maintaining a healthy weight for your height and bone structure is most important when choosing an eating plan. If you're concerned with being overweight or underweight, talk with your health care provider about modifying your diet and beginning an exercise program. In the meantime, here are some suggestions on what to include in your diet if you have COPD:
Butler, LM., et al. Prospective study of dietary patterns and persistent cough with phlegm among Chinese Singaporeans. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Published ahead of print on November 4, 2005 as doi:10.1164/rccm.200506-901OC.
de Batlle, J., et. al. Cured meat consumption increases risk of readmission in COPD patients. Eur Respir J. 2012 Sep;40(3):555-560. Epub 2012 Mar 9.
Jesenak M., et. al. Food allergens and respiratory symptoms. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2008 Dec;59 Suppl 6:311-20.