A new study conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center, along with researchers from the United States and Europe, shows a direct link between eating fish, fruits, and dairy and improved lung function among those living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The study, reported in Health Canal, was presented at the American Thoracic Society’s 2014 International Conference.
Researchers looked at COPD patients’ lung function within 24 hours of eating grapefruit, bananas, fish and cheese. They used “data from the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints study (ECLIPSE). ECLIPSE was designed to help determine how COPD progresses and to identify biomarkers associated with the disease”.
Lead author Corinne Hanson, Ph.D. found that diet is “a potentially modifiable risk factor in the development and progression of many diseases, and there is evidence that diet plays a role in both the development and clinical features of COPD”.
What sets this study apart from other similar research that associate diet with improved lung function is the immediacy of the reaction. Participating patients reported the type of food they had consumed in the previous 24 hours. For those in the variable test category, this included grapefruit, bananas, fish and cheese. These patients showed “improvement in lung function, less emphysema, improved 6-minute walk scores, and a decrease in certain inflammatory markers associated with poor lung function including white blood cells and C-reactive protein,” wrote the authors.
Dr. Hanson says the findings “demonstrate the nearly immediate effects a healthy diet can have on lung function in a large and well-characterized population of COPD patients.”
These findings are important because they demonstrate the potential need for and benefits of dietary counseling for COPD patients. Dr. Hanson notes that diet has been proven to have both immediate and long term effects on COPD and should be a continued area for research.
For patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic lung conditions, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key for managing their condition and improving symptoms. Moderate exercise, for instance, can improve circulation and help the body to better use oxygen. It is also important to follow a healthy diet that meets core nutritional requirements and limits exposure to foods that may cause inflammation.
“Nutrition plays a pivotal role in patients with COPD; this is because weight is an important factor in how the lungs function,” said Dr. Lubna Javed, a family practitioner with HealthCare Partners Nevada, a network of more than 200 primary care physicians and 1,300 specialists. “If a person is overweight, their lungs may have to work harder because extra weight demands more oxygen. On the other hand, being underweight may make patients tired and cause exacerbation of dyspnea.”
Poor nutrition can also lead to malnutrition and weight loss, which can result in a poor prognosis, including increased susceptibility to infection, reduced quality of life and even death.
“For most people, breathing is effortless. However, in patients with COPD, there is a conscious and continuous effort to breathe,” said Dr. Javed. “This can increase the resting energy expenditure by up to 15 percent, and if there is no compensation for increased energy needs, weight loss and cachexia will set in.”
Maintaining a healthy body weight and supporting the inefficient and overworked respiratory muscles with proper nutrition can improve symptoms and reduce the risk of infection.
Dietary Needs of Chronic Lung Patients
Because maintaining a healthy body weight is so important in managing the symptoms of chronic lung conditions, chronic lung patients must ensure that their eating habits are meeting their body’s nutritional requirements.
“It is extremely important for patients with COPD to maintain a balanced diet,” said Dr. Javed. “A lack of calories for example could lead to the breakdown of fat and muscle in the body which increases shortness of breath, decreases appetite and leads to impaired absorption of nutrition, weight loss and loss of muscle strength.”
She notes that COPD patients may benefit from a high-fat and low-calorie diet, as this will give them the calories they need to maintain a healthy body weight. However, caution is advised for patients with obesity and cardiovascular problems.
Dietary Restrictions and Recommendations
Also important to managing a chronic lung condition is avoiding foods that may cause inflammation or trouble breathing and embracing those that strengthen the body and boost the immune system.
“Inflammation is like a fire in the body,” said Alina Zhukovskaya, AADP, CHHP, NDS, a health coach, raw food chef and detox specialist who recently spoke about the importance of nutrition for lung-affected Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1) patients at the 22nd Annual Alpa-1 National Education Conference. “The body needs to fight it, but if there is not enough energy it cannot do this. When you eat something that causes inflammation, your body has to tend to the inflammation and will have less energy to work on the lungs.”
To that end, Zhukovskaya recommends that patients focus on including more fruits and vegetables into their diet, as these will provide the body with the nutrients it needs to help fight infection and inflammation. Fruits and vegetables also take the least amount of energy to digest and give the body the most energy to function.
Included in this diet should be dark, leafy greens such as kale and collard greens and foods rich in vitamin A or C such as sweet potatoes, mangoes, bell peppers and oranges.
“You want to get the most nutrition out of the least volume of food, and fruits and veggies are key to doing this,” said Zhukovskaya. “Juicing is also great because you get all of the vitamins and minerals in liquid form, so the body can absorb these nutrients more quickly.”
By juicing just once a day, and incorporating more life-giving foods such as fruits and vegetables into their diet, COPD and other lung condition patients will see improvements in their breathing.
“One thing that I tell chronic lung patients is to avoid drinking soda,” said Zhukovskaya. “Soda is essentially carbonated water and as a result it is full of carbon, or the waste of our breathing process. When people drink carbonated beverages, they put a lot of waste back into their body. For COPD patients who already have trouble breathing, this can negatively impact their ability to breathe.”
In addition, soda is full of sugar and sugar substitutes, which have been found to cause inflammation, as do processed proteins such as hamburger meat.
“I have talked to people who have implemented these dietary improvements and they have seen huge improvements in their breathing,” said Zhukovskaya. “The key is learning what is bad and what is good and learning how to incorporate these changes into your daily life.”
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one way patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients can take control of their health. By following the recommended guidelines provided in the food pyramid, patients can get the most nutrition out of the calories they eat, including the nutrients the body needs to perform, maintain wellness and fight disease.
These guidelines recommend that you:
· Make fruits, vegetables and whole grains the foundation of meals
· Eat plenty of calcium-rich foods
· Limit your intake of saturated and trans fat, with total fat intake kept moderate
· Restrict consumption of sugar and salt
· Eat moderate portions
· Consume alcohol in moderation
In addition to providing your body with the nutrients it needs to operate at optimal levels, following recommended nutritional guidelines can also reduce your risk of obesity—a problem that may worsen symptoms related to COPD. An overabundance of fat tissue impairs the breathing process. Increased body mass index (BMI) is also associated with a number of other respiratory problems, including a reduction in various pulmonary functions. Obesity in COPD patients is also related to a decrease in both exercise tolerance and quality of life.
Maintaining a healthy weight can provide significant, symptomatic improvements. By following the recommended nutritional guidelines and participating in moderate activity as permitted by your doctors, your body will be well-equipped to promote health, reduce stress and take control of your COPD.
A compound found in broccoli may help boost the immune system and ease the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a recent study published in Science Translational Medicine. The study, conducted by researchers at John Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, found that an organic molecule found in broccoli, sulforaphane, stimulates the production of a molecule known as Nrf2, which helps produce free radical-neutralizing antioxidants in the body.
Patients with COPD often display poor white blood cell activity in their lungs, while the immune bodies’ ability to consume invading bacteria seems to be compromised by free radical damage. However, according to the study, consumption of dietary supplements containing sulforaphane will increase the production of free radical-neutralizing antioxidants and improve the body’s ability to consume bacteria, increasing feelings of overall health and wellness.
Recent studies strengthen these results, revealing that a decrease in Nrf2 signaling in patients with COPD may hamper their ability to defend oxidative stress. However, the role of Nrf2 in COPD exacerbations has not been determined.
“Our findings demonstrate the importance of Nrf2 … in improving antibacterial defenses and provide a rationale for targeting this pathway, via pharmacological agents such as sulforaphane, to prevent exacerbations of COPD caused by bacterial infection,” wrote the study authors.
In addition to producing free radical-neutralizing antioxidants, sulforaphane was also found to help kill two types of bacteria that affect people with COPD and to increase the ability of macrophage, a bacteria-removing molecule, to uptake bacteria by 300 percent. Further, in a study of mice, the compound was shown to reduce lung inflammation.
Frequent consumption of cured meat may negatively affect lung function and increase the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. That is because the nitrites used in meats such as bacon, lunch meats and sausage generate reactive nitrogen species that can cause damage to the lung and contribute to emphysema, at least in animal models.
The study, conducted by researchers at Columbia University, analyzed data from 7,352 subjects enrolled in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to assess the impact of diet on lung function. To rule out any outlying factors, researchers studied the demographic differences between those who consumed cured meats and those who did not.
They found that individuals who consumed cured meats were more likely to be tobacco-using males of lower socioeconomic status and who were less likely to report physician-diagnosed asthma than individuals who did not consume cured meats. Further, those who consumed cured meats also had lower intakes of vitamin C, beta-carotene, fish, fruits, vegetables and vitamin or mineral supplements and higher intakes of vitamin E and total energy.
However, after adjusting for a range of possible confounding factors, including smoking, total calories in diet and the use of dietary supplements, researchers found that cured meat consumption was inversely linked to measures of lung function. Researchers found that subjects who consumed cured meat at least 14 times per month were 78 percent more likely to develop COPD than those who did not. The corresponding increased risk of mild, moderate and severe COPD were 11 percent, 46 percent and 141 percent, respectively.
In conclusion, researchers have classified high dietary levels of nitrites as a novel risk factor for COPD. They note that further study is warranted in prospective longitudinal studies.
Increasing daily intake of fruits and vegetables does not improve lung function or other markers of lung health in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a recent study published in the European Respiratory Journal.
Previous research had shown that people who eat large quantities of fruits and vegetables may have less-severe lung symptoms or may be less likely to die from COPD. Researchers believed this to be true because of the antioxidants present in those food groups and their anti-inflammatory effects. However, those studies were observational, meaning that scientists compared people who were already eating fruits and vegetables to those who did not eat them.
While this type of research is effective for some studies, it does not prove that nutritional habits alone drive changes in lung function. That is because scientists cannot take into account every other health and lifestyle variable that affects breathing and airway function.
For the latest study, researchers attempted to overcome this hurdle by recruiting 75 people with COPD who skimped on fruits and vegetables and randomly assigned half of them to increase their consumption from less than two servings per day to at least five servings. The remaining participants were instructed to eat no more than two daily portions. Participants from both groups had fruits and vegetables delivered to their home for 12 weeks and were advised on how to store and cook them.
While those people assigned to a diet high in fruits and vegetables increased their consumption to more than six servings per day, this did not lead to any improvement in lung function or measures of inflammation in the airway. Further, 35 patients saw their COPD worsen during the study, including six patients who required hospitalization. Participants in both diet groups were equally as likely to have worsening symptoms.
The researchers note that participants in the study may have been too far along in the disease to see any benefit from diet changes. All patients had moderate to severe lung disease and were an average age of 65. However, the researchers believe that a boost in fruit and vegetable intake that lasts longer than just a few months may lead to improvements in lung function for those in the early stages of COPD.
Vitamin D supplements don’t seem to help most patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Often referred to as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D has been said to help fight inflammation of the lungs in patients with COPD. However, most patients suffering from COPD are vitamin D deficient.
Investigators of the study hoped that high doses of vitamin D would reduce the number of exacerbations in these patients that often result in hospital stays. However, they found only a limited benefit from vitamin D supplements.
Researchers came to this conclusion after randomly administering 100,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D supplements to patients with moderate to very severe COPD every month for one year. Of the 182 patients enrolled in the study, a number of participants were also randomly selected to take a placebo pill. Over the course of the year, researchers studied the rate of flare-ups and hospitalizations as well as quality of life and deaths.
Despite blood levels of vitamin D rising significantly in those taking the supplement, researchers found no significant difference in the time before an exacerbation or the number of flare-ups between these patients and those receiving the placebo. There was also no significant difference between the groups in hospitalizations, quality of life and deaths.
However, researchers note that 30 patients with severe vitamin D deficiencies who were selected to take the supplement did have a significant reduction in exacerbations. While these results are promising, researchers note that these findings do not mean that all COPD patients should receive these high doses of vitamin D. This finding strengthens the idea that severe deficiency may result in enhanced inflammation in lungs affected by COPD.
Being underweight increases the risk of death for patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). That is according to a recent study presented at the European Respiratory Society’s Annual Congress in Amsterdam.
The study, which evaluated the connection between mortality rate and weight, examined 552 patients in primary care through the use of a standard questionnaire. Participants reported their age, education, smoking status and level of care, while researchers also assessed lung function and history of comorbidities.
After taking into account age, sex, lung function and smoking, researchers found that COPD patients who are underweight were 1.7 times more likely to die over a five-year period, compared to COPD patients at a normal weight. The study also found that COPD patients with heart disease or cardiac failure were 1.9 times more likely to die than those patients diagnosed with COPD alone.
“As the population is aging, people are more likely to suffer from more than one condition at the any given time. It will be important for clinicians to recognize other symptoms outside of their specialist area to ensure patients are receiving all the necessary treatment,” said Dr. Björn Ställberg, from Uppsala University in Sweden, in an article published on the European Respiratory Society’s website. “The findings of this study have shown that heart disease and being underweight are very serious conditions and therefore should be taken into consideration when managing patients with COPD.”