For people with lung disease, healthy eating is of utmost importance to maintain overall health. Patients with chronic lung conditions require 25-50% more energy than normal to fight infections and make up for the extra demands for breathing normally. There are many superfoods for the lungs which help meet these increased energy demands and which constitute mainly of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In this article, we will discuss all the important superfoods for lung health as well as foods that aren’t so good for the lungs.
Protein is an important food group that constitutes superfood for healthy functioning of the lungs. Choose lean cuts of meat such as 90% lean beef, chicken or turkey without skin, fish, egg whites, beans and tofu. You can moderately consumer egg yolks, shellfish and duck and nuts. Stay away from hot dogs, processed meat cuts, bacon and bologna. Eat 2 servings of protein daily to support respiratory muscle health. Here are some food choices to include for your daily protein intake as part of the diet for healthy lungs:
- 2 eggs
- 100g cooked fish fillet
- 1 cup cooked or canned legumes and beans
- 170g tofu
- 30g nuts and seeds
- 65 g cooked lean meat
2. Dairy and calcium rich foods
Low fat and skimmed dairy products are the best super foods for lung health maintenance. Aim to get at least 2-3 servings of dairy in the form of low fat yogurt, fat free cheese with no more than 3g of fat per oz. You can also include 1-2 servings of sour cream and 2% milk. Stay away from whole milk, Swiss cheese, Cheddar cheese and cream cheese. People taking steroids for lung disease should aim for calcium rich foods such as:
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- ½ cup cottage cheese
- 1 medium orange or calcium fortified orange juice
- 3 oz shrimp
- ½ cup canned sardines
3. Fiber rich foods and whole grains
Look for whole grain breads, pastas, cereals and rice. You can eat 2-3 servings of plain white baked potatoes. Limit your intake of Granola, muffins and cornbread and stay away from pastries, doughnuts, noodles and croissants.If you have breathing trouble, limit your carbohydrate intake. Aim for 3-6 servings of whole grains in the following manner:
- 1 slice whole grain bread
- ½ cup cooked porridge
- 2/3 cup wheat cereal flakes
- ¼ cup muesli
- 1 small English muffin
4. Fruits, vegetables and legumes
Fruits and vegetables are not just lung cancer superfoods; they are superfoods that could fight many other cancers. They are rich in antioxidants which help the body fight free radicals that lead to cancer. You can eat fresh, frozen or dried fruits. Limit your intake of canned fruits since most are high in sugar. Stay away from vegetables made in buttery sauces. As part of your diet for lung disease, aim for 5-6 servings of fruits, vegetables and legumes:
- ½ cup cooked vegetables of assorted colors: broccoli, spinach, carrots and pumpkins
- 1 cup green salad vegetables
- ½ cup sweet corn
- ½ cup cooked or canned beans of all varieties
- 1 medium tomato
- 2 servings of fruits (2 apricots/kiwis/plums and 1 apple/banana or 125 ml fruit juice without sugar).
5. Healthy snacks
In case of underweight people, certain healthy snacks are an essential part of the diet for healthy lungs. Sorbet, low fat yogurt, plain popcorn, pretzels , fruit smoothies, sugar free canned fruits, low fat and low sugar custards etc are some ideal snacks. Weight gain can be a problem for people with lung disease, so one must try and eat 500 to 1000 calories more than normal. Baked chips, homemade cakes and cookies prepared with healthy unsaturated oils are also recommended.
6. Fats and oils
The superfoods for your lungs should include healthy oils and fats like olive, canola and sunflower oil. Coconut oil is also a good option. Eat plenty of walnuts, avocados, peanut oil and olives. Stay away from lard, solid shortening, butter and bacon fat.
Water is recommended for healthy lungs especially if you have a lot of phlegm. Avoid caffeinated drinks and suck on ice cubes, lemon ice and hard candies. If bloating is an issue, (which it is in case of COPD), avoiding fluids an hour before and after meals might help.
The diet for healthy lungs should take into account fatigue and shortness of breath that lung disease patients usually suffer from. Eating smaller, frequent meals could help. People having difficulty in cooking their meals or shopping must get help or try to shop in bulk as far as possible. Find foods that are easy to swallow and aim to use recipes which are easy to prepare. Keep high calorie snacks like walnuts and almonds on hand to snack upon during the day.
Use these 7 superfoods for your lungs and keep your energy levels up.