Nutrition & COPD
Speaker 1: The material contained in this video presentation provides general information on the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This information is for reference purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. For specific information and recommendations based on your health condition, please consult your medical provider.
Susan Harms: Hello, my name is Susan Harms. I'm a registered dietician and diabetes educator and today we're going to be talking about nutrition and COPD.
Why nutrition is important. COPD often comes with having shortness of breath and fatigue both of which can make eating more difficult as it is hard to catch your breath while chewing. Bigger meals tend to make it even harder, therefore eating smaller meals more often can help.
Additionally, COPD can increase the metabolic rate or make your body burn more calories as more forces is needed for the lungs to work with each breath. This work that they body is doing requires energy or fuel which comes from food. For some, this can lead to weight loss and loss of muscle mass since there is a higher need for energy but potentially less food is being eaten.
On the other hand, some people gain weight, possibly from the medications increasing hunger or reaching for more high-calorie, low-nutrient dense processed foods.
Impact of fatigue on calorie intake. Looking closer at fatigue, everything we do around food requires energy whether it's grocery shopping, prepping the food, cooking the food, even eating the food. Fatigue can often lead to skipping meals as it's just too much work to eat the food. Or it could lead to going out more often and grabbing more processed foods like packaged foods, convenience foods, fast foods, and eating out at restaurants. Therefore, our goal is to have quick, easy nutrient-dense meals and snacks.
Nutrition 101: energy providing nutrients. Protein is our first energy-providing nutrient and is so important for COPD as it helps to maintain muscle mass and immune system. It comes from both animal sources and plant. Some healthy, quick, easy sources to choose are going to be nuts and nut butters. They don't take a lot of effort to prepare and can be kept in the cupboard. Pulses, another name for beans, lentils, and peas, are quick and easy to prepare as well and provide a lot of protein. Canned tuna, chicken, salmon, and sardines are great protein sources as well and you can use them in a variety of ways. Additionally, eggs and egg whites are easy to prepare and don't take a lot of effort. Greek yogurt is a great source of protein as well as cheeses and cottage cheese although look for the low-fat option. You don't have to go fat-free but low-fat is going to be important. And of course, our traditional proteins that we think about. Lean beef, chicken, turkey, and pork can also work.
Fat is our next energy providing nutrient. Again, it comes from animal and plant sources although plant sources tend to be more heart healthy. For COPD, a diet slightly higher in fat may produce less CO2 waste when digested so it could be helpful. Healthy sources of fat include nuts and nut butters, which again are a great source of protein. Avocados and guacamole, olives, our heart healthy oils like olive oil and peanut oil, fish, and especially the wild-caught fish.
Carbohydrates is our third energy-producing nutrient. Carbs come from sugar, starch, and fiber. Diets high in carbs may increase CO2 waste, therefore try not to overdo the carbs. You don't have to cut them out completely, but you may want to cut back.
Healthy sources of carbs include whole grains, rice and quinoa can easily be cooked in the microwave for a side dish. Whole grain crackers, whole grain bread are good options. Your starchy vegetables include potatoes and sweet potatoes which again, can be cooked very quickly in the microwave to make a nice side dish. Our pulses and beans which are also high in protein. Fruits, you can get them in a variety of ways, fresh, frozen, canned, so you can find what's most convenient for you. Milk and yogurt does have carbohydrates and it is a protein source, but for some people, it can increase mucous so you might want to be careful with that.
One thing we do want to limit is deserts and candy as it's high in sugar and has less nutritional value.
Nutrition 101: other important nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are also very important. Many medications used to treat COPD can deplete the body of these nutrients so we want to make sure that we get enough of them from the foods we eat. Specifically, we want to make sure we have Vitamin A, B, C, and D. Minerals would be Potassium, Phosphorus, and Calcium. You can get these from a variety of fruits and vegetables so think about eating the colors of the rainbow. All of the different colors are going to give you provided nutrients with the vitamins and the minerals. So red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Whole grains will also provide vitamins and minerals as well as your lean meats and your low-fat dairy.
Nutrition 101: fluids. Our last nutrient is water. The body is made up mostly of water and it keeps our body systems working properly. We lose water throughout the day through normal body functions like breathing and sweating. Dehydration can effect the body in many ways, some even seriously. For COPD specifically, water can help thin the mucous in the lungs. Thirst is not a reliable indicator of when to drink. Often, by the time one feels thirsty, they're already dehydrated. So one way to gauge hydration is the color check. In the restroom, check the color. Dark or bright yellow is not good. We want more of a pale yellow. So where do we get water? Well the best source is water. But we can also get it through fruits, vegetables, and unsweet beverages.
The plate method. The plate method is an easy way to put all of this information together. Take your plate, divide it into quarters, so a quarter of the plate will be fruit, quarter vegetable, quarter grain, quarter protein with a beverage on the side. Eating all of this could be too much at one time for some. It is okay to do two out of the four and mix and match from one meal to the next. So you could do apple and peanut butter. You could do salad with a hard-boiled egg on it. You could do a whole-grain cracker and cheese.
Nutritional side effects of medications. An additional consideration in regards to nutrition is the impact medications can have on the body's nutritional status. Specifically, cortico steroids can cause the body to lose calcium. It can also lead to weight gain from increased hunger. For some people, it could raise blood pressure or blood sugars, making it important to avoid excess sodium and sugar. Additionally, it could irritate the esophagus or stomach making it more difficult to eat many nutritious foods. And lastly, it could decrease the absorption of some vitamins and minerals making it even more important to eat adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. Other medications could lead to altered taste, decreased appetite, or dry mouth impacting what and how much a person can eat. If you have any questions on food and drug interactions, be sure to ask your pharmacist or your doctor.
Simple step to remember. To summarize the key points, we want to eat smaller meals, more often. Rest before eating. Drink fluids between meals. Follow the plate method to get balance and variety. And use more easy to prepare foods that are nutrient-dense.