Eating tips for seniors with COPD
Coping with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be very difficult for seniors, especially when they find out they have to make significant lifestyle changes. COPD is a term used to describe a constellation of progressive, chronic lung diseases that can include emphysema, bronchitis, asthma, and other conditions that make breathing difficult.
If your senior was recently diagnosed with COPD, maintaining good nutrition should become a top priority. While a healthy diet won’t cure the condition, improving a loved one’s eating habits can help fight off infections and keep them out of the hospital. These are a few dos and don’ts for maintaining a healthy diet:
Do – Eat protein
Protein plays an essential part in protecting the body and fighting infection. According to WebMD, a lack of protein can significantly reduce the lung’s ability to defend against infection in COPD patients. So be sure your senior gets enough meat, fish, eggs, poultry, or dairy.
Don’t – Use salt
A diet involving too much sodium can cause water retention which affects the ability to breathe, so attempting to severely cut down on salt is a priority. Instead, use unsalted herbs and spices to flavor foods. Be wary of low-sodium salt substitutes, as these could potentially replace sodium with other unhealthy ingredients. Whenever possible, check the labels of foods and avoid anything containing more than 300 - 600 milligrams of sodium per serving. When eating out, request food without salt.
Do – Watch your weight
This goes for both excess or low weight, as symptoms of COPD can include lack of appetite. If your loved one becomes underweight, this will increase their likelihood of picking up an infection. And according to the Cleveland Clinic, because COPD requires an individual to use more energy when breathing, the muscles used in respiration might use up to 10 times more calories per day than they otherwise would.
Don’t – Eat foods that cause bloating
A full or bloated stomach that’s caused by overeating or eating foods that are inflammatory can make it difficult for those with COPD to breathe. To help alleviate this problem, it is best to stay away from foods that cause gas or bloating. These include carbonated beverages, fried or heavily-spiced foods, beans, and onions, among others.
Do – Embrace high-fiber foods
Fiber is the indigestible part of plant food that helps move food along the digestive tract, controls blood glucose levels, and could reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood. A loved one living with COPD should aim to consume between 20 and 35 grams of fiber per day. High-fiber foods include vegetables, fruits, cereals, whole grains, and rice.
Overall, a healthy diet for people with COPD is similar to the suggested diet for anyone. It’s important to eat a variety of healthy foods to get required nutrients. It is an all too common and dangerous occurrence for seniors to become malnourished, and doing so with COPD causes additional issues. However, close attention to a healthy diet can help alleviate some of the problems caused by the condition.
If you’re looking for extra assistance in learning about COPD and making sure your loved one follows a healthy diet, home health aides from FirstLantic are here for you. Whether you’re looking for hourly, daily, or overnight home healthcare services in South Florida, contact FirstLantic at 1-877-618-3624 or fill out our online contact form. We’ve devoted ourselves to serving clients in Broward, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Indian River and Martin Counties for over 16 years.