Increased shortness of breath â€“ wheezing â€“ cough. Yikes! It’s known thatÂ there are foods good for lungs, but are there really foods that can cause your respiratory symptoms to worsen? Scientists say that, at least for some people, there are.
Limit Meaty, Starchy Salty Foods
Contrary to popular belief, dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, donâ€™t increase mucus production1Â and worsen cough; meaty, starchy, salty foods do.2Â A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reports that people who consume a diet composed of mostly meat, refined starches and sodium have a 1.43 higher risk of developing chronic respiratory symptoms and COPD.2Â Which foods should you consider cutting out of your daily diet? Start with the following:
Which foods should you eat instead? Try choosing:
Bid Farewell to Foods that Cause Gas and BloatingÂ
Certain foods â€“ and beverages as well â€“ are notorious for producing gas and bloating which often leads to uncomfortable â€“ not to mention embarrassing â€“ digestive symptoms. But, your gut isnâ€™t the only system that suffers from the consumption of gassy foods â€“ your neighboring respiratory system can also be affected. As the girth of the abdomen increases from the effects of gas and bloating, so does pressure on the diaphragm, which in turn makes it difficult for some folks to breathe. People with lung disease have enough problems in the breathing department; they certainly donâ€™t need to complicate matters by choosing foods and libations that produce gas.
For a list of foods to avoid, read Identifying Foods that Cause Bloating.
Say No to Nitrates
Cured meats such as hot dogs, ham, corned beef, luncheon meats and bacon are preserved with nitrates and nitrites, substances that do a great job at preventing spoilage, but may have a negative impact on our health. A study published in the European Respiratory Journal reveals that a high dietary intake of cured meats is associated with an increased risk of worsening COPD symptoms and subsequent hospitalization for COPD exacerbation.3Â Instead of meats cured with nitrates, look for meats cured in sugar or other curing agents.
Be Aware of Food Allergens
Approximately 3% to 4% of all adults experience food allergies resulting from an overreaction of the bodyâ€™s immune system to certain foods.4Â The trouble with food allergies is that they can worsen respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing and cough. Foods that are infamous for causing food allergies include:
If youâ€™re aware of an existing food allergy, then you already know which foods to avoid. However, if your respiratory symptoms increase only after eating certain foods and youâ€™ve never been told you have a food allergy, maybe youâ€™ve developed one; talk to your physician about allergy skin testing.
Author: Deborah Leader RN, BSN, PHN