In this sharepost
- How your body uses food
- Maintaining the right weight for you
- Foods to breathe better, foods to boost energy and foods to avoid
It’s easy to see why you should pay attention to what you eat when you’re trying to lose weight, gain weight, or if you have issues with your digestive system. But, if you have COPD, does what you eat have any affect on your breathing? And if so, how?
Let’s start by looking at how your body uses food. Food is the fuel you need in order to survive and to perform all activities – including breathing. Good nutrition also helps the body fight infections, the very infections that can settle in your lungs. The way your body uses food is part of a process called metabolism.
Metabolism: Food and Oxygen = Energy + Carbon Dioxide
In the process of metabolism, food and oxygen are changed into energy and carbon dioxide, providing your body with nutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein). This energy is needed to not only perform activities of daily living, but to simply keep our bodies alive. Carbon dioxide is a waste product that leaves your body when you breathe out.
It’s important to maintain a healthy body weight and if you have COPD, that number may surprise you. Your health care provider or registered dietitian can talk with you about a weight that’s best for you and how many calories you should consume per day, keeping in mind the unique nutritional needs of a person with COPD. A dietician may recommend you take a nutritional supplement in addition to healthy, high-calorie meals and snacks.
Being overweight can cause your heart and lungs to work harder, making breathing more difficult. If you are overweight, exercise regularly and limit your total daily calories. Dropping just 5-10% of your weight should make it easier to breathe – and take stress off your knees and back!
Being underweight is a serious problem for many people with COPD. Just breathing requires more energy – and calories. The COPD Foundation’s Reference Guide (BFRG) says that a person with COPD may require up to seven times more calories than someone with normal lungs! So, if you have COPD it’s important to take in enough calories to prevent weakening or wasting of muscles. The simple truth is – your body burns fat, and when you run out of fat, you begin to burn muscle. You don’t want that to happen, especially to the main muscle of breathing – your diaphragm.
Here are a few suggestions for high-calorie snacks:
- Pudding made with whole milk
- Soft or semi-soft cheeses
- Granola bars
- Tortilla chips topped with melted cheese
- Crackers with peanut butter
- Bagels with cream cheese
- Cereal with half and half
- Fruit or vegetables with dips
- Yogurt with granola
- Dried fruits
- Premium ice cream
- Popcorn with margarine and parmesan cheese