In all honesty, I think several posts are required to address this delicate area! As everyone’s body is different plus there’s a lot of conflicting or confusing information out there! For example, is milk good or bad for us COPD sufferers? Does it trigger more mucus production or is that just a myth?
Additionally, when I say it’s your own journey, it really is. For example, with my specific body weight, I have to make a conscious effort to put on weight, with COPD sufferers typically using up to 10 x more calories than an average body. Because it’s using more energy to fight, heal and repair. In some instances, people will be overweight and this puts further pressure on the organs, where you may need to lose weight.
Either way, having experimented over the years with foods that are good and bad for me, research, dietician visits and advice from my own qualified dietician cousin, I can give some insight to what I consciously try to incorporate into my diet each day.
- Raw Cacao: as if the wellness community haven’t covered it enough, this wonderful superfood has a range of benefits, but specific to COPD, it can support an anti-inflammatory diet. With exceptional levels of antioxidants (waaay more than banana’s and blueberries even!), protein and tryptophan (google it), it can help reduce depression, is a great mood-improver, decreases stress levels (cortisol), provides healthy fats and supports your immune function very well. Studies show that 40% COPD patients can suffer from high levels of depression and anxiety. Enter raw chocolate- this can make you happier on a biological and physiological level.
- Pumpkin seeds: A plant-based Omega-3 fat (and I have lots of this including Avacado and Cod liver oil), this also includes inflammatory properties (much to the point, it even helps arthritis sufferers). It is a rich source of Zinc ; being deficient is associated with increased colds and flu, chronic fatigue, depression, acne etc. A note about Omega-3 fats: they are essential healthy fats, which the body isn’t capable of producing on its own. Historically, we’ve seen that populations that consume the most omega-3 foods, like people in Okinawa, Japan, live longer and healthier lives than people who eat a standard diet low in omega-3s. Same with those in the Mediterranean- Spanish, Greek, Turkish and French- they eat well and gulp olive oil! They are key for their inflammation reducing abilities.
- Chia seeds: Wild-caught fish such as Salmon, flaxseeds and chia seeds, along with other omega-3 foods, can provide anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids too! Another Mayan piece of magic (those clever warriors using cacao and chia as healing rituals and food wonders…), ‘Chia’ actually means strength in Mayan language. It can give you high energy and endurance which is why it’s great at breakfast time or before a workout (and YES- you should workout with COPD). These seeds, once again are full of antioxidants and magnesium.
- Coconut sugar: If you’re eating raw cacao and you hate bitter tastes, then this diet would probably be hard for you! Thanks to coconut sugar though, you can satisfy your sweet desires with coconut sugar instead. It contains vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, though in small amounts. Iron and zinc, for example, are found in coconut sugar, containing about two times more than granulated sugar according to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI). I found a lot of my immunity (and most people will) was due to gut health. In fact, they say 80% of your immunity comes from the gut. Coconut sugar contains Inulin and this has the ability to stimulate the growth of intestinal bifidobacteria, commonly found in probiotics, which can provide an overall boost to the immune system.
Most of the above are more like breakfast ingredients! But starting off with a good morning diet generally means you set the intentions for eating like that the rest of the day. I throw together a couple of spoonfuls of raw cacao powder, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds AND the coconut sugar in my porridge for example. AND I drink raw cacao in hot milk in the morning or a hot ginger tea (real, not the tea bags) with organic honey. Same at night time, hydration is key and you can be creative with it, for example, I love treating myself to traditional Chinese herbal drinks or it can be apple, ginger and goji berry tea, a classic lemon and hot water drink etc. These small rituals and eating or drinking well will take a very long way in your health goals.
Throughout the day, other magnesium, protein-rich, or those with lots of Omega-3 fats work for me. Magnesium is an extremely important mineral that is in charge of various functions throughout the body, including blood clotting, muscle contraction and protein production. So lots of dark green vegetables, tofu, spinach, wild-fish, avacado’s etc. Not to mention the daily consumption of ginger root, tumeric, apples, blueberries etc.
I try not to be overly prescriptive (I do actually want to enjoy life and not be a calorie counter ;)) but do make a conscious effort to snack or eat a combination of these things (carbs, protien, fruits and veg). And I know if I’ve used more energy than normal e.g. by doing yoga, going for a walk and gym in the same day then I need to eat A LOT more to accommodate my energy levels and not to lose weight. Not to mention, the above ingredients have massively contributed to glowing skin, stronger/longer nails and thicker hair. Magic dust and potions for any girl really!