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Treating COPD With Diet

Dietary interventions, including increasing fruit and vegetable intake and decreasing meat intake, may not only help slow the progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but may actually improve lung function.

April 30, 2012 |
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Acknowledgements

Images thanks to Karl

Transcript

120 COPD patients were randomized them into two groups. Half were told to boost their fruit and vegetable consumption, and the other half stayed on their regular diet. The intervention group was told to eat at least one more serving a day of fruits or vegetables, and they did, and they did for three years. More fruit, and more vegetables, than control.
Here’s the control group. Slowly but surely they got worse. That’s what happens in COPD, emphysema, you get worse and worse, then you die. The group told to eat at least one more serving of fruits or vegetables every day, started out the same, but didn’t get worse. One year, two year, three year. In fact if anything it looks like their lung function got a little better. That’s not supposed to happen; you’re supposed to get worse.
Could be the antioxidant effect of fruits and vegetables, could be the anti-inflammatory effect, or, frankly it may not directly be the fruits and vegetables at all. When you eat more of one thing, you tend to eat less of another. For example, the addition of fruit and vegetables resulted in a decreased consumption of meat, which is known to be a pro-oxidant. Either way, though, there is now hope. These findings suggest that a dietary shift to higher-antioxidant food intake may be associated with improvement in lung function, and, in this respect, dietary interventions might be considered in COPD management.
The tobacco industry viewed these landmark findings a little differently. Instead of adding fruits and vegetables to ones diet to prevent emphysema, wouldn’t it be simpler to just add them to the cigarettes? And whallah, the addition of acai berries to cigarettes evidently had a protective effect against emphysema in smoking mice.
Next they’re going to try to add berries into meat. I spoke too soon. Adding fruit extracts to burgers was not without its glitches, though. The blackberries literally dyed burger patties with a distinct purplish color… though infusing lamb carcasses with kiwifruit juice before rigor mortis sets in does evidently improve tenderness… and it is possible to improve the nutritional profile of frankurters with powdered grape seeds… though there were complaints that the grape seed particles were visible in the final product, and if there’s one thing we know about hot dog eaters, it’s that they’re picky about what goes in their food.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

See also the "prequel" to this video, Preventing COPD with Diet, and the 10 other videos on reversing chronic diseaseWhat's in a Burger? and What is Really in Hot Dogs? may also be of interest. And if you were going to infuse lamb carcasses with kiwi fruit juice, would the juice of green or yellow kiwis be healthier? See Antioxidant content of 3,139 foods. Though there are only 4 videos on kiwi fruits, there are hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.

Check out my associated blog posts for more context: Eating To Extend Our LifespanTreating COPD with DietPreventing and Treating Kidney Failure With DietHeading Shrinking from Grilling MeatThe Science of Acai Berries, and Raspberries Reverse Precancerous Lesions

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    See also the “prequel” to this video, <a href=", and the 10 other videos on . and may also be of
    interest. And if you were going to infuse lamb carcasses with kiwi fruit juice,
    would the juice of green or yellow kiwis be healthier? See . Though
    there are only , there are hundreds of other videos
    on .

  • maybush1

    The last line of your commentary was, itself, worth the viewing of this excellent video! I loved it! Thanks again Dr. Greger for your videos.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

       Thanks for the kind words–I try to add as much humor as I can to these videos. Sometimes it’s easier than other times–like this was one just handed to me :)

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some context, please check out my blog post Treating COPD with Diet!

  • Teresa

    I laughed out loud at the end of this – but I am passing the info on to my mother, who has COPD after a lifetime of asthma and a diet sadly low in fruits and veggies.

  • Akenney06

    Is there any way you would do written versions of videos. thank you

  • Aht117

    I have a lot of trouble viewing your videos.  Most will not load.  Could you publish the script as an alternative to viewing the video?  Thanks

    • Michael Greger M.D.

       I’m so sorry you’re having trouble!

      Which browser and version of it are you using?  Is your browser version up to date? You can upgrade any browser version here.

      Have you tried clearing your browser cache and cookies?

      Have you tried using the browser with all extensions or add-ons disabled?

      Do you have third party cookies enabled?

      Do you have JavaScript enabled?

      Have you upgraded Flash recently or are you using the latest version?

      Do you have another browser you can try?

    • Tommasina

      I just wanted to update everyone that we can now read the transcripts of the videos by clicking on the “Transcript” button beneath each video. Hope that helps! :)

  • Robert Thatcher

    Do any studies show diet having an impact on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)? Thanks so much for the daily videos! We have your date/sweet cherry ice cream about every week!

    • Joel

      I second the request for light on IPF. I’ve a friend with this diagnosis, now advanced to the degree he is scheduled for a lung transplant! 

    • Grandmaw

      This is just one experience and may not mean a thing.  My husband has pulmonary fibrosis and about a year ago, I started making vegetable plates with no meat for dinner.  He still sometimes eats meat sandwiches for lunch but no meat for breakfast.  The last time he went to his doctor, he was told that his pulmonary fibrosis had not changed a bit from the previous checkup. It’s worth a try.

  • LynnCS

    Made me laugh. Unfortunately I came over here to find a topic on COPD to link to a friend who’s husband is suffering. Hope it triggers her and him to improve their diets and forestall the inevitible. Love your posts, so much. I always know I can get some info here. I appreciate how much work goes into all this research. You make a difference in so many lives.

  • http://twitter.com/KathrynPolster Kathryn Polster

    Do you have information on reducing COPD symptoms with diet. I have a client on a plant based diet, but is there more he can do?

    • Ed

      Kathryn you might try Serrapeptase and NAC or N-acetyl cysteine. both are inexpensive and made a world of diffrence with my mother-en-law and her COPD

    • Tommasina

      Kathryn, have you also checked out Dr. Greger’s associated blog post? http://nutritionfacts.org/2012/06/07/treating-copd-with-diet/
      It’s been a while since you asked your question, so I’m curious if your client improved since being on a plant-based diet. Any updates? :)

  • kate

    Is there any literature about asthma being helped by a gluten free diet?