British Lung Foundation

Diet and Emphysema

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Healthy diet linked with better lung function in COPD patients

ATS 2014, SAN DIEGO – Sure, everyone knows a healthy diet provides lots of health benefits for patients with respiratory diseases, but now a new study has shown a direct link between eating fish, fruit and dairy products and improved lung function among patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Conducted by researchers in the U.S. and Europe, the study specifically looked at COPD patients' lung function within 24 hours of eating grapefruit, bananas, fish and cheese.

The study will be presented at the ATS 2014 International Conference.

"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," said study lead author Corinne Hanson, Ph.D. "This study aimed to evaluate that association."

For their study, the researchers 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. Limited diet records were available for 2,167 ECLIPSE participants who provided dietary intake information at eight time points over a three-year period. Each participant reported the amount of a specific food they had consumed during the previous 24 hours.

Next, the researchers looked at specific standard lung function measurements for the same group of people, including the six-minute walk test (SMWT), St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) scores and inflammatory biomarkers. Results were adjusted for age, sex, body mass index (BMI) and smoking.

What they found was that people who reported recently consuming fish, grapefruit, bananas or cheese had showed improvement in lung function, less emphysema, improved six-minute walk scores, improved SGRQ scores, and a decrease in certain inflammatory markers associated with poor lung function including white blood cells and C-reactive protein.

"This study demonstrates the nearly immediate effects a healthy diet can have on lung function in in a large and well-characterized population of COPD patients," Hanson said. "It also demonstrates the potential need for dietary and nutritional counseling in patients who have COPD."

Based on these results and the results of other studies indicating a link between COPD and diet, the role of diet as a possible modifiable risk factor in COPD warrants continued investigation, she added.

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23 Replies

Well,I for one am happy about that !! All the things I love eating,& do!

Very interesting, I am allergic to bananas though, maybe I could substitute alcohol!!


I've just become vegan,so very healthy ,lots of things to eat,apart from contaminated food. I've always eaten healthy,so no change for me.

The only thing I dont like is fish unless it's out if the chippy deep fried in batter but it's maybe not just as hlealthy

Great, what we've all been advocating for ages. Eat little and often of very health giving foods.

It's very possible to change habits too - though don't forget, grapefruit interferes with some drugs, particularly statins xx


... also remember that dairy products build mucous and can "bung you up" (so to speak!) ... grapefruit fights antibiotics too.

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A few years ago that's what they said. Like they said it was better to drink skimmed or semi-skimmed milk. On what ground, though. there has never been a proven research on this.

Of course, if you personally suffer with additional mucus because of milk intake, that's different, but I think these make piece press release have not much value.

I've been so ill that I lost considerable weight. To regain weight, I drink hot chocolate in whole milk! And it does me good. Now me, is not you or anyone else. so it really depends on the individual.

You can test for lactose allergy to be certain, that's a positive result. but I don't believe these press releases! Sorry.

Mind you I have been eating all sorts of cheese, including goats cheese, which is supposed to be "better". But Better is a vague term and is not really qualified.

My bro-in-law used to swear by the D'Adamo diet according to your blood group. I tried, but I coughed even more!!!- after a month of trying this.

I'd just be careful. there are list of alkaline food vs acidic food, that was in vogue at one time.

You can turn to Ayurveda balancing your body energy too or homeopathy. There are plenty of theories, but unless you make a personal exploration with personal doctor's tests, I don't think you will know exactly, because food is processed and takes its time to go through the system. You don't get blotchy because you take the wrong vitamin. It doesn't show straight away and is almost intractable when you suffer from one of the imbalances. In this country, few suffer from berry berry or scurvy. But too much Vit C may give you diarrhoea!

Sorry about this long article. but after all we live in a country where tests are available. It's notorious that food research is not carried out properly. It's a shame! But that's how much the scientific world really cares!!!

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It really is as eightyplus says, horses for courses! When I was singing I didn't take milk - and still have black coffee - but I do eat cheeses. I do have allergies and food intolerances but can't be bothered to exclude milk, eggs, sugar and wheat etc from my diet!

The "scientific world" doesn't know which end is up and keep changing their minds - example an apple a day suddenly became bad until it reverted to being good again. It's difficult to believe anything any more and I don't trust a lot of what is printed under the heading of "research" ...

Incidentally, I find it quite handy that vit C gives me 'dire ear' (as my very young son used to say lol!) then I know I'm up to my limit!

Wow I eat loads of cheese and bananas and fish (when I can afford it). Might start buying grapefruit again too. I presume if you are on benefits they give you more money so you can afford healthy food! :d x

Looks a little like horses for courses in my opinion. The most sensible way to eat is by choosing foods that you know are healthy and appreciate, take them in moderation, and then simply enjoy what you eat.

I remember as a nipper having bread and jam in between playing out and tea time, now life is completing its circle and I am once again enjoying bread and jam with my afternoon cuppa!

Later on I might even get daring and dunk it in my tea as well.


I absolutely agree with this. I weigh 55kgs and cook just about everything from scratch as well as eating at least 5 fruit and veg a day. I am active, almost never still, do yoga, treadmill, don't drink alcohol much, definitely don't smoke and my symptoms are very well controlled, as long as I take my medication. I'm not a saint, but do believe we need to do as much to help ourselves possible.

Cheese one of my favourite foods, but most of the sites say any dairy product is a big no no, a respiratory nurse told me the other day that it was not true and the research shown above seems to agree.

No grapefruit though one of my pills has a warning do not eat grapefruit while taking these tablets.

I shall look forward to a chunk of good strong cheddar for lunch.

Even if it does not improve my health it certainly would cheer me up. As for fish in batter, I just have to pretend it's good for me again it gives pleasure and we need some of that

Oh Moneal...are you saying its OK to eat cheese?( I do hope you are) I LOVE cheese but cut it down a lot when I was told dairy is not good for mucus ( I do know it has reduced my nose blowing by cutting it out,) but I am not sure if it helps reduce sputum too

There are so many variations in the results of studies on the effects of food that we sufferers eat, I never know which to believe, but having been told by a specialist nurse with years of university studies and training, plus the report that started this blog, there must be some truth in it. I did query the diet supplied by the local hospital, which is very dairy rich and was told the experts had approved the diet which was balanced and safe, this included dishes topped with cheese, milk puddings and a lump of cheese, ice cream and yoghurt most days. From this I assume that a controlled amount of these foods is ok

Yippppeeee I LURVE Cheese. Thanks Moneal ( I keep wanting to call you Monreal after the Arsenal left back :) :) )

I have quite a healthy diet already.apart from grapefruit.yuk!

I was told dairy products are a no no? Medics moving the goal posts yet again best to try everything and then leave out what seems to disagree with you. At the end of the day one has to look after themselves and make their own decisions

Hi martin all sounds good to me I love dairy fruit and fish,I have found that too much cream tickles my cougher but thats all it doesnt build up any mucous not that I suffer with that now that I dont smoke :) I have always had and given a healthy diet,I do believe the lack of this causes many health issues not just our lungs.Fast living and fast food is a disaster which is already having an affect ,obesity,irritable bowel problems is massive now but in children too, which upsets me cos so unnecessary,ADHD etc the list is long. :) Janexx

Not sure what to think they do say butter is bad yet the other types '' can't believe '' dogs wont eat that I do believe a little of what you fancy does you good. xx

I've found the more moderately I eat and exercise in some way, even if it's simply trimming the hedge with a pair of manual clippers (rather than gas or electric motorized), the better I feel in general, even though while I'm doing the 'exercise' my poor old outta shape body 'cries' for rest.

Moderation in all things....

very interesting reading, but again, how many times have we read this, that and the next thing,but i think i echo what most have been saying,, a good diet, plenty veg, little and often .and as said in the above post,, moderation in all things,,[im a fine one to say that lol] but learning very quickly] i had a brief period where i felt better, then stupidly tried to do the impossible,, then down again with an infection, back on the antibiotics and steroids. although feeling slightly better now, still far from right.,, jimmy

If you enjoy fish from the chippy just don,t eat the batter(that,s the best bit I hear you all shout lol) as it,s that and the chips of course that have all the fat.I love fish yum!D.

Thank you for posting this - I immediately ate a banana and had some cheese for lunch. Don't think I could manage the grapefruit as my stomach is shot from all the meds, but fish, I keep meaning to eat more of.

Apart from anything else, just reading that there is something that can improve lung function, was very encouraging. I shall eat these foods now with an added relish and a feeling of doing something to help myself. This is a big psychological help and IMO that's always a plus.

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