COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. It is popularly called the smoker’s lung, which often shows the typical “smoker’s cough”, with shortness of breath and expectoration. Although the majority of smokers are affected, the number of non-smokers affected has steadily increased for years. Proper nutrition can not only prevent COPD. It can also influence the course of the disease very positively in the presence of an existing illness and make life worth living again. You can finally breathe easier, the mucus dissolves and the coughing subsides.
The diet determines the course of the disease in COPD
A wrong diet is also increasingly mentioned in scientific circles as a contributory cause of chronic diseases. Because the type of diet determines significantly whether an existing chronic disease progresses and is getting worse or whether it can improve again.
This applies to a variety of ailments, whether it is depression, arthritis, psoriasis, high blood pressure, breast cancer, polyneuropathy, multiple sclerosis, psychosis or whatever.
First studies have long been published, which prove the importance of nutrition in COPD and asthma. The very fact that obesity is a significant risk factor for lung disease and overweight is usually the result of an unhealthy diet, shows that it is high time to change the diet, which usually automatically leads to a normalization of weight.
Even some pulmonary specialists now advise a change in diet, so that it has long been appropriate reports on this experience:
Experience: Basic nutrition improves COPD
“My pulmonologist recommended a basic diet. I was skeptical at first. But if I consistently implement this diet, I can breathe easier, cough less and have significantly less mucus in my throat. I eat vegetables and low-acid fruits. I add a pinch of soda (sodium bicarbonate) to my drinking water and eat six small meals instead of the usual three large meals.
Some fish and poultry are allowed. Coffee, carbonated drinks, red meat, chocolate and fried are taboo. At first I was worried that I would lose weight, but I did not lose much weight and regained it in terms of muscle mass thanks to my sports program. My new diet has another advantage. I no longer need acid blockers for the stomach. However, as soon as I sin, I notice it immediately, I feel worse and I return with pleasure to my basic diet. ”
Of course, there are always feedbacks like this: “I had to quit smoking. If I can not eat all that, what I like, I have no more joy in life. “Here is a decision to make: to feel good and to enjoy the enjoyment of healthy food or sitting in the old mess stay and cough the soul out.
COPD risk decreases by one third with proper nutrition
We have already reported on a study published in February 2015 in the British Medical Journal. A full-bodied vegetable-rich diet had reduced COPD risk by a third in this study!
COPD is the acronym of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (English: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). It is a group of different respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema.
COPD-related diseases are characterized by systemic (whole-body) inflammation, respiratory tract inflammation, pulmonary function disorders and shorter life expectancy. Main symptoms are cough, bronchitis, sputum and respiratory distress.
In 2015, 30,000 people died of COPD in Germany alone. By comparison, lung cancer had 45,000 in the same year. However, lung health can be very well influenced by the diet.
In COPD, a change in diet is an important part of the therapy!
In the journal Nutrients, a review of the Center for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases of the University of Newcastle, Australia, was published in March 2015. The study focused on the influence of diet on lung health and especially on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The participating researchers wrote that although medical care in this area is progressing more and more, a change in diet should always be carried out as an adjunct. For example, the Mediterranean diet offers itself as it has a protective effect against respiratory diseases in epidemiological studies.
Mediterranean diet instead of typical western diet
In the Mediterranean diet, you eat the most natural foods possible, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, accompanied by occasional fish meals. Dairy products, meat and poultry are rare. The source of fat is olive oil, which automatically reduces the consumption of unhealthy fats.
By contrast, the typical Western diet (white flour, meat, dairy, sweets, fries, salty snacks, and sweet desserts) increases the risk of becoming a victim of respiratory disease (asthma, COPD, etc.), and children who like to eat fast foods are more likely to develop asthma , That’s no surprise, as even a single high-fat fast-food meal increases the inflammation of the respiratory tract.
Fruits and vegetables improve lung function values
Fruit and vegetables, on the other hand, contain plenty of nutrients, such as antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals. All these substances are known to have a very good effect on human health, and thus also on the lungs and respiratory tract. Children and adults are therefore less likely to suffer from respiratory illnesses when they are practicing a high-fruit and vegetable diet. Eating children, however, little vegetables, then you are more likely to develop asthma.
In adults, a study showed that increased fruit intake over two years increases the so-called FEV1, a lung function value that usually continues to decline in COPD. Another study found that years of low fruit intake caused a falling FEV1.
In two randomized controlled trials with COPD patients, the 12-week study showed that high fruit and vegetable intake did not alter FEV1 nor did it affect inflammatory or oxidative stress levels in the respiratory tract.
Apparently, the time frame was too short, because in a three-year study with 120 COPD sufferers, the lung function score in the higher fruit and vegetable intake group improved significantly compared to the low-fruit and low-vegetable control group, so it can be assumed that short-term fruit and vegetable cures make no sense, but rather a permanent change in diet is recommended.
Minerals in COPD
Also, a comprehensive mineral supply should be self-evident in COPD. In asthma, it is known that the increased intake of magnesium, calcium and potassium reduces the risk of illness.
Calcium intake in particular seems to be more difficult in COPD patients, as a study showed. The subjects consumed enough calcium but had low calcium levels. However, this may also be due to a vitamin D deficiency, as vitamin D promotes calcium absorption from the intestine. If vitamin D is missing, calcium deficiency becomes more likely.
Since magnesium relaxes the muscles of the bronchi and overall improves the lung functions, a good supply of magnesium for respiratory diseases is also enormously important.
In some studies, a selenium deficiency has also been shown to promote the development of lung diseases, so that this trace element could also be included in a holistic therapy of COPD – not least because selenium promotes the body’s ability to detoxify and thus protect the organism from harmful substances. which otherwise can damage the lungs in particular. What selenium preparations come into question and how they are dosed, we have explained here: selenium for detoxification
Fiber in COPD
On a fiber-rich diet, you usually pay attention only when the digestion causes problems. Also, to prevent diabetes or to lower the cholesterol level, dietary fiber is often eaten.
In lung diseases, however, one generally does not immediately think of oat bran, wholemeal bread and baobab. But you should. Because a study from January 2016 showed that the lungs with daily 20 grams of fiber were in much healthier condition than in humans who ate low fiber. Yes, in populations that eat high-fiber diets, only half as many suffer from respiratory ailments than those who prefer white-rot, meat, and dairy-all low-fiber foods.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are among the polyunsaturated fatty acids with u. a. anti-inflammatory effect. They are usually offered as a dietary supplement in capsule form – either as fish oil or algae oil, but are also contained in numerous foods.
Fish consumption is often called ideal if you want to provide enough omega-3 fatty acids. For the lungs, fish consumption does not seem to offer a health guarantee, as previous study results are extremely mixed. They either showed that fish consumption is associated with an increased risk of lung disease, has no impact on lung health or can improve lung function.
However, further studies have shown that higher levels of DHA reduce COPD risk and lower COPD levels of inflammation and support disease recovery. Dietary supplementation with DHA-rich omega-3 supplements (eg algae capsules Opti3) would therefore be an important component of holistic therapy for COPD.
Vitamin D in COPD
With nutrition, vitamin D can rarely be taken in relevant amounts. It is therefore a special case, because it can be made by the body with the help of sunlight itself. For the sake of completeness and because of its importance, we call it here anyway.
Studies show a clear correlation between good vitamin D supply and lung health. Although the exact mechanisms of this compound are not yet known, there is every indication that it makes sense to exclude or remedy a vitamin D deficiency if you have a lung disease or want to prevent it. Because a corresponding deficiency increases the risk of developing COPD.
For example, it is known that respiratory infections in COPD are unfavorable and should be avoided because they accelerate the course of the disease. Vitamin D now strengthens the immune system and reduces the susceptibility to respiratory infections, as Zosky et al. Wrote in 2013 in Nutrients.
In fact, one study from 2005 and another from 2012 showed that the better their vitamin D status was, the better lung function in COPD patients. Incidentally, smoking prevents the protective effect of vitamin D (Uh, Park et al., 2012).
We have also reported here that unfavorable vitamin D status increases the risk of asthma and leads to more frequent seizures and increased cortisone use in asthmatics. Yes, a vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy interferes with the child’s lung development so that it is later exposed to a higher risk of lung disease.
How to determine a vitamin D deficiency and to remedy this with individually appropriate vitamin D doses, we have described in our article on the correct vitamin D intake.
Antioxidants and oxidative stress
As with any chronic disease, oxidative stress caused by free radicals also plays a key role in COPD and other lung diseases. Free radicals are produced in the lungs by cell reactions to air polluting particles (dust, smoke, chemicals, etc.). They further enhance the inflammatory processes that are already present in COPD.
However, the better the supply of antioxidants, the better the body can cope with oxidative stress. Because antioxidants neutralize free radicals and stop their destructive activities. The most important antioxidants in a healthy diet include vitamins C and E, flavonoids and carotenoids, all of which are especially abundant in fruits and vegetables, as well as in nuts, vegetable oils, cocoa and green tea.
The carotenoid lycopene, for example, has been shown to be beneficial in lung disease, as pulmonary functions in asthmatics and COPD patients were all the better the more lycopene-rich foods they consumed. Even with a dietary supplement with lycopene, there were improvements, as the substance can relieve inflammation in the airways.
We have already reported food for lung repair here. In addition to apples, tomatoes play the main role in this article as they help in the regeneration of lung tissue and inhibit its aging process.
Another carotenoid is called beta-cryptoxanthin. It is, for example, in oranges, tangerines, pumpkins, red peppers, kakis, carrots and dandelions. Also, this substance has a very good effect on the health of the lungs and protects the respiratory organs from the harmful effects of smoking, so that especially passive smokers or ex-smokers should resort to these foods. Initial studies in animals showed that beta-cryptoxanthin could contribute to their shrinkage in existing lung tumors.
Flavonoids are also plant substances with u. a. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic (histamine-inhibiting) effect and therefore extremely helpful for the sensitive respiratory tract. The administration of flavonoids improves bronchoconstriction (spasmodic constriction of the bronchi) and inflammation. The latter, thanks to the flavonoids, improve not only in the respiratory tract, but in the whole organism.
The flavonoids include 6 subspecies: flavones, flavonols, flavanones, isoflavones and flavanols. There is hardly any vegetable food that does not contain at least one of these flavonoid representatives. The best flavonoid sources are therefore: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, tea, herbs and spices.
Vitamin C in COPD
Another top-class antioxidant is the vitamin C. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-asthmatic and anti-allergic. Although there are also inconsistent results here, sometimes the vitamin improves the lung functions, sometimes there is no effect of vitamin C intake. From a holistic point of view, these investigations should not unsettle. Because no doubt you should not rely solely on vitamin C, but integrate the vitamin with many other measures in a comprehensive concept.
In mice that were unable to produce vitamin C for genetic reasons, the administration of vitamin C protected against lung disease, reduced oxidative stress in the airways, and helped to regenerate damaged lung tissue.
A study from Taiwan found that COPD patients usually had a low-vitamin C diet and / or had lower vitamin C levels than healthy people. Conversely, a study of 7,000 adult volunteers showed that increasing vitamin C levels can protect against COPD.
A healthy diet is automatically high in vitamin C, but can be supplemented with natural vitamin C supplements, such as acerola powder, sea buckthorn juice or rosehip powder.
Vitamin E works closely with vitamin C. If vitamin E neutralizes free radicals, it is initially disabled itself. Vitamin C can now revitalize vitamin E so that it can once again plunge into the fight against oxidative stress. Whatever illness one suffers from, both vitamins should be present in sufficient quantities.
A human study showed that vitamin E reduces inflammatory processes, improves pulmonary function and relieves breathing difficulties, but mostly only in those subjects who previously had low vitamin E levels. As is so often the case, taking vitamins does not help everyone, but only where there is a need.
Vitamin E reduces levels of oxidative stress in COPD patients. Since there is a heavy burden of oxidative stress activities, especially during a push, it is not surprising that in these phases the vitamin E levels are very low, as now much of this vitamin is consumed.
If the illness flares up, then at the latest now an increased supply of vitamin E should be considered. Vitamin E is also helpful as a preventative measure. With sustained good vitamin E supply, the risk of developing a chronic lung disease could be reduced by 10 percent. That sounds little. However, considering that vitamin E is ONLY one measure of many and every single measure contributes to reducing the risk, then overall, a very good protection comes about.
Vitamin E sources
Good sources of vitamin E are wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts and moringa. The vitamin E requirement of an adult is about 15 mg per day, which alone would put in 1 tbsp wheat germ oil or 4 tbl sunflower oil.
For comparison: 1 tbsp of olive oil provides only 1.3 mg of vitamin E, but is preferable to sunflower oil and wheat germ oil because of the better fatty acid ratio (omega-3 / omega-6). Of course you can still use some of these oils from time to time, but not only and not daily in large quantities.
The need for vitamin E could, for example, be met as follows, with the particular amount of vitamin E present in parentheses. The sum is 17.3 mg of vitamin E. (The respective amount of consumption can of course be adjusted entirely to the personal energy requirement):
- 20 g hazelnuts or almonds (5 mg)
- 10 g sunflower seeds (2 mg)
- 10 g Moring Powder (4 mg)
- 100 g whole grain bread (1 mg)
- 80g quinoa raw (1.1mg)
- 30 g of oatmeal (0.4 mg)
- 1 tbsp olive oil (1.3 mg)
- 500 g of fruits and vegetables (average 0.5 mg of vitamin E per 100 g, makes 2.5 mg)
Healthy diet in COPD
Alone from this list you could now put together a very healthy diet for COPD. Because these foods provide not only vitamin E, but almost everything it needs to maintain lung health, restore or improve existing lung diseases: fiber, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, carotenoids and flavonoids.
Of course, one supplements the nutritional plan with healthy sources of protein, nibbles dark chocolate (antioxidants in cocoa), drinks a cup of green tea from time to time and alternates again and again, so takes z. B. other nuts or kernels in between, other flakes, eats instead of quinoa whole grain rice, etc.
Only selenium, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D are additionally taken as a dietary supplement. If you would like to take additional supplements, the following are available:
Dietary supplement in COPD
Suction. BCAA, three specific amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) that help regulate protein metabolism, are particularly good at building muscle, promote fat-free weight gain in underweight and also increase blood oxygenation (which is reduced in COPD), In some cases COPD is recommended – especially if weight loss is imminent in the course of the disease.
Curcumin from turmeric and sulforaphane from z. B. Broccoli sprouts are considered in COPD in question. Both are powerful anti-oxidants with anti-inflammatory effects, which have proven to be beneficial in initial studies in COPD. Turmeric is therefore also an important ingredient of the drink for lung cleansing.