COPD is the abbreviation for a lung disease known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – a term which encompasses both emphysema and chronic bronchitis. This group of lung diseases is more commonly seen in smokers, and can lead to serious respiratory problems and even death. There are a variety of treatments that can help open up the diseased airways and treat the symptoms of COPD, but there is no cure, although the progression of the disease can be slowed. Now, a new study shows that people with COPD could get symptom relief by altering their diet.
COPD and Diet: What’s the Association?
A recent study looked at the effects of diet on 120 patients who had been diagnosed with COPD. One group was told to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables they ate by at least one serving a day. The other group received no dietary instructions at all. Both groups were closely followed over a time span of three years and were given periodic lung function studies to see if their COPD was progressing.
Did a Fruit and Vegetable Rich Diet Improve COPD Symptoms in This Study?
At the end of the study, the group who ate the fruit and vegetable enhanced diet experienced improvements in their lung function tests, while the group who followed their normal diet without added fruits and vegetables had lung function studies that were unchanged.
COPD and Diet: Why Does a Fruit and Veggie Rich Diet Improve COPD?
Researchers believe that the symptoms of COPD are made worse when the lungs undergo oxidative stress. Oxidative stress causes the airways to become inflamed and they become narrow – leading to a reduction in air flow – and symptoms of shortness of breath and chest tightness that people with COPD know so well. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants which reduces the oxidative stress and inflammation that makes the symptoms of COPD worse. Fruits and veggies may even help with prevention of this disease. Studies even show that eating a moderate amount of fresh produce each day lowers the risk of COPD in people who smoke.
Are Some Fruits and Vegetables Better Than Others for People with COPD?
Most fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants and would be helpful for improving lung function. Specific fruits and vegetables that are frequently mentioned in the literature as being good choices for people with COPD are apples, tomatoes, and broccoli. The best approach is to get a diversity of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables so the body is exposed to a wide range of antioxidants of all types.
COPD and Diet: The Bottom Line
Several studies point to the benefits of a fruit and veggie rich diet for preventing and treating COPD and many people with COPD don’t eat a healthy diet. This is a simple lifestyle change that could reap great benefits for people who suffer with this lung disease.