Preventing COPD with Diet

Preventing COPD with Diet
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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is now the third leading cause of death. The good news is that. in addition to smoking cessation, there are dietary interventions that can help prevent COPD.

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The top three killers in the United States are no longer heart disease, cancer, and stroke. That was so 2010. Stroke moved down to number 4. Number 3 is now COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; respiratory diseases like emphysema. We know we can prevent, and even help treat, the other top killers with diet. What about COPD? There’s still some coal-mining going on, but 80-90% is from smoking. So, what does diet have to do with it?

Well, data dating back 50 years found that high intake of fruits and vegetables was positively associated with pulmonary function, lung function in general. But does that mean it could prevent COPD? There’s been a burst of new research over the last ten years to answer just that question.

In 2002, we learned that every extra serving of fruit we add to our daily diet may reduce our risk of getting, and then eventually dying, from COPD. In 2006, we could add tea-drinking to fruits and vegetables for COPD prevention.

In 2007, a pair of studies emerged; one from Columbia, one from Harvard, implicating cured meat—bacon, bologna, ham, hot dogs, sausage, salami—as a risk factor for developing COPD. They thought the nitrite preservatives in the meat may be mimicking the damage done by the nitrites from cigarette smoke. In 2008, Harvard decided to study women, as well, and found the same thing.

So, now we know what to eat, and what to stay away from. In 2009, soy was added to the good list. Both tofu and soy milk found protective against COPD, protective against breathlessness. In 2009, more evidence for the benefits of vegetables, and 2010, the benefits of fiber, especially from whole grains.

But this is the study we’ve all been waiting for. Sure, the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effects of plant foods can help prevent COPD, but what if you already have it? Stay tuned for the next video, Treating COPD With Diet.

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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to LeRoy Woodson via Wikimedia Commons.

The top three killers in the United States are no longer heart disease, cancer, and stroke. That was so 2010. Stroke moved down to number 4. Number 3 is now COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; respiratory diseases like emphysema. We know we can prevent, and even help treat, the other top killers with diet. What about COPD? There’s still some coal-mining going on, but 80-90% is from smoking. So, what does diet have to do with it?

Well, data dating back 50 years found that high intake of fruits and vegetables was positively associated with pulmonary function, lung function in general. But does that mean it could prevent COPD? There’s been a burst of new research over the last ten years to answer just that question.

In 2002, we learned that every extra serving of fruit we add to our daily diet may reduce our risk of getting, and then eventually dying, from COPD. In 2006, we could add tea-drinking to fruits and vegetables for COPD prevention.

In 2007, a pair of studies emerged; one from Columbia, one from Harvard, implicating cured meat—bacon, bologna, ham, hot dogs, sausage, salami—as a risk factor for developing COPD. They thought the nitrite preservatives in the meat may be mimicking the damage done by the nitrites from cigarette smoke. In 2008, Harvard decided to study women, as well, and found the same thing.

So, now we know what to eat, and what to stay away from. In 2009, soy was added to the good list. Both tofu and soy milk found protective against COPD, protective against breathlessness. In 2009, more evidence for the benefits of vegetables, and 2010, the benefits of fiber, especially from whole grains.

But this is the study we’ve all been waiting for. Sure, the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effects of plant foods can help prevent COPD, but what if you already have it? Stay tuned for the next video, Treating COPD With Diet.

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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to LeRoy Woodson via Wikimedia Commons.

Doctor's Note

For killers one and two, see my videos on heart disease and my videos on cancer. I also have several other videos on lung health, including Deep-Frying Toxins, and Is Artificial Butter Flavor Harmful? 

For more on the dangers of processed meat, see Bacon and Botulism. Note that most of the sources for this video are open access, so you can download them by clicking on the links in the Sources Cited section above.

For further context, check out my associated blog posts: Treating COPD with DietAdding FDA-Approved Viruses to MeatEating To Extend Our LifespanPreventing and Treating Kidney Failure With Diet; and Head Shrinking from Grilling Meat.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

11 responses to “Preventing COPD with Diet

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  1. For killers one and two see my 79 videos on heart disease and my 95 videos on cancer. I also have a few other videos on lung health including Deep Frying Toxins and Is Artificial Butter Flavor Harmful?. For more on the dangers of processed meat, see Bacon and Botulism. There are also hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects. Finally, please note that most of the sources for this video are open access, so you can download them by clicking on the links above in the Sources Cited section.




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  2. For killers one and two see my 79 videos on heart disease and my 95 videos on cancer. I also have a few other
    videos on lung health including Deep Frying Toxins and Is Artificial Butter Flavor Harmful?. For
    more on the dangers of processed meat, see Bacon and Botulism. There are also hundreds
    of other videos on more than a thousand subjects. Finally,
    please note that most of the sources for this video are open access, so you can
    download them by clicking on the links above in the Sources Cited section.    




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    1. Sorry about the confusion! We upgraded the site on Wednesday night. Instead of signing in as a guest, if you click on the Disqus button or “Login” at the top of the comments section above, you’ll see you can log in through facebook or twitter create a new Disqus account that should remember you.  It will also allow you to claim any past comments you have made using that same e-mail address. So there are essentially two logins, a login for NutritionFacts.org and a login for the commenting, but once they’re both set up you shouldn’t have any problem (I hope!). Please let me know if you have any other questions with the new system.




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  3. My new favorite saying is “PreHab’s the best Rehab” and clearly, a healthy diet will steer us all in the direction we need to be going if we truly want to reduce the “burden of health care” in this country.

    I’m glad to have found these two videos on diet and COPD. I look forward to learning more as I review your other videos on lung function.

    Thanks again :)




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  4. I am unable to hear any audio on these videos. I used to hear the audio, but something changed several weeks ago and the video is mute.




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