Increasing your fibre intake could help your lungs

Fibre is already well known for its benefits in preventing heart attacks, diabetes and some cancers but also recent research has shown that it may also help to ward off lung disease, even if you are still smoking and regardless of BMI.
“While it’s impossible to say if eating more fiber will offset the effect of smoking on your lungs, it does improve lung function, both in smokers and in non-smokers as well,” explains nutrition expert Corrine Hanson.
As the nation ages, the number of people with COPD is projected to grow, creating a major national health problem for which the only preventative strategy is to give up smoking.
“Many people can’t give up smoking, which is one of the reasons why we are so excited about this study,” says Hanson, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
In the study those who ate a high fibre diet had significantly improved lung function, exhaled more air and had less airway restriction compared to those that did not follow the diet.
Although, at its highest level, the effects of dietary fibre did not quite offset smoking, it still showed benefits equivalent to using an inhaler, Hanson says. He believes this may be due to its anti-inflammatory benefits, which may also explain why it helps to prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other ailments as well. Fibre has been shown to exhibit both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, which have been implicated in both the development and progression of lung disease. Fibre also plays a key role in the formation of beneficial gut bacteria which has increasingly been found to be involved in good overall health.
Here are tips on boosting the fibre content of your diet:

  • Wash but don’t peel fruits and vegetables. Eating the skin and membranes ensures that you get every bit of A baked potato with the skin has twice the fibre of a potato without the skin.
  • Eat raw vegetables. Cooking them may reduce fibre content by breaking fibre down into its carbohydrate components. To avoid this effect, cook, microwave, or steam vegetables only until they are ‘al dente’ – tender, but still firm to the bite.
  • Choose whole fruits, vegetables. Juice does not contain as much fibre from the skin and membranes of whole fruits and veggies, and can also contain added sugar.
  • Add bran or wheat germ to casseroles, meatloaf, and cooked cereal. Each tablespoon of bran adds more than 1 gram of fibre and can barely be detected when blended with some cereal or a casserole.
  • Add vegetables to casseroles, soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, and rice dishes. For example, simply add a cup of broccoli to a pasta dish for an extra 2 grams of

Hansen also says “there are very few interventional strategies for the prevention of COPD, with the exception of smoking cessation. This is a non-invasive, very inexpensive strategy that may be good for your lungs.”
If you do decide to alter your diet and increase your fibre intake then ensure you consult your doctor and ensure you maintain your usage of medication and oxygen therapy.
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Body weight and COPD

Malnutrition can be a common complication with COPD. This is due to dyspnea, a major symptom of COPD, which makes people feel like they have no appetite. People with COPD require 10 times as many calories as healthy people in order to breathe. A patient may suffer dyspnea, have no appetite and not eat enough. They then cannot get enough energy from their food intake to breathe sufficiently and they can then feel tired and their dyspnea increases, making it a vicious circle. The best way for someone to supplement calories without having to eat more to do so, is to eat foods that are higher in calories. This is just one reason why COPD patient’s need to be careful of their diet.

body weightFinding the right diet should be part of your management plan for COPD. A healthy diet can help people with COPD maintain an optimal weight and keep COPD symptoms in check, and it provides the much needed energy. The trick is eating right to avoid shortness of breath during meals.
COPD: The Impact of Body Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is very important in order to control your symptoms but being underweight is just as a bad as being overweight.
If you are overweight then carrying more weight around can increase shortness of breath. One factor that may contribute to the problem is the inflammation associated with fat tissue. But excess fat may also constrict the lungs, making it harder to breathe. The weight of the fat on the chest wall decreases the amount of room for the lungs. It also pushes up on the diaphragm, restricting its movement, particularly when bending over or lying down.
Being underweight however is potentially worse as being underweight and weaker will zap your energy, make it more difficult to breathe as your muscles are weaker and give you a poorer prognosis in the long-term.
COPD: Nutrition Tips
A doctor or nutritionist can help you to work out the plan to suit your medical requirements.
•    Monitor calories: If you are overweight, you can lose weight by eating fewer calories. But don’t eat so few calories that you feel fatigued and hungry all of the time.
•    Avoid fad diets: COPD patients need to eat a healthful, balanced diet instead of going on fad diets to control weight.
•    Focus on protein: Ensure you’re eating enough protein as protein is particularly important for COPD patients who are exercising as part of their pulmonary rehabilitation plan.
•    Watch your portions: COPD patients usually find it better to eat small meals frequently rather than large meals twice a day as it helps lessen shortness of breath.
•    Get balanced: Focus on consuming fruits, vegetables, dairy products, whole grains, and lean proteins.
•    Limit salt: Consuming excessive sodium can lead to fluid  retention, which can worsen your shortness of breath.
•    Remember your oxygen: If your doctor recommends it, use supplemental oxygen during and after meals to aid in  digestion and help combat any periods of shortness of             breath.
Ensuring you have a healthy diet is extremely important, not just in the types of food that you eat but the amount and frequency that you eat. The right plan can help manage your symptoms, improve quality of life, provide you with energy and help your body fight against infection. With COPD you need more energy to breathe so feed your body well.
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