Living With COPD

Your Nutritional Status

COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is the second leading cause of disability among Americans. A person’s nutritional status can influence the degree of severity of COPD, and COPD can create circumstances that make consuming an adequate diet difficult.

General Body Types Associated with COPD

Overweight-peripheral edema is common. (water retention in feet and legs) poor skin tone resulting from a lack of oxygen being distributed to the body tissues. Underweight- prone to weight loss, poor appetite common muscle wasting apparent. Chest, arms and legs look bony.

Maintaining or Achieving a Desirable Body Weight is essential. Being overweight increases the workload on your heart and lungs to supply oxygen to all areas of the body. Secondly, excess fat in the abdominal area crowds the diaphragm, making it difficult to fully expand the lungs. By losing weight through proper diet and exercise, the body’s muscle mass is increased. This makes breathing easier and the person will feel healthier and more energetic.

On the other hand, being underweight is a problem as well. Weight loss is a consequence of a combination of increased calorie needs and inadequate diet. As a result of poor diet, the body’s muscle mass, including the respiratory muscles, becomes depleted, making breathing more difficult. The increased work of breathing creates a higher calorie need and a cycle of weight loss and muscle wasting is perpetuated.

The Impact of Nutrition on Immunity

A diet deficient in calories, protein, and vitamins and minerals has a negative effect on immune function. The body’s cells that fight infection are made of proteins. Poor diet makes it difficult for the body to build new immune factors to fight infections and to repair damaged tissues. Decreased appetite and increased caloric needs may then start another debilitating cycle. For this reason and the ones above, the COPD patient must achieve a balance of good nutrition and exercise to stay as healthy as possible.