Treating COPD with Diet

Treating COPD with Diet
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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.

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120 COPD patients were randomized 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, and then you die.

The group told to eat at least one more measly serving of fruits or vegetables every day started out the same, but didn’t get worse. One year, two years, three years. 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 fruits 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 one’s diet to treat emphysema, wouldn’t it be simpler to just add them to the cigarettes? And voilà, the addition of açaí berries to cigarettes evidently had a protective effect against emphysema in smoking mice.

Next, they’re going to try to add berries to meat. I can always count on the journal Meat Science. Now, 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 frankfurters 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Karl / flickr

120 COPD patients were randomized 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, and then you die.

The group told to eat at least one more measly serving of fruits or vegetables every day started out the same, but didn’t get worse. One year, two years, three years. 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 fruits 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 one’s diet to treat emphysema, wouldn’t it be simpler to just add them to the cigarettes? And voilà, the addition of açaí berries to cigarettes evidently had a protective effect against emphysema in smoking mice.

Next, they’re going to try to add berries to meat. I can always count on the journal Meat Science. Now, 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 frankfurters 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Karl / flickr

Doctor's Note

See also the prequel to this video, Preventing COPD with Diet, and my other videos on reversing chronic disease. Also, What’s in a Burger? and What is Really in Hot Dogs? may 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. And be sure to check out my videos on kiwi fruits.

Check out my associated blog posts for further context: Eating To Extend Our LifespanTreating COPD with DietPreventing and Treating Kidney Failure With DietHead Shrinking from Grilling MeatThe Science on Açaí Berries; and Raspberries Reverse Precancerous Lesions.

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

37 responses to “Treating COPD with Diet

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  1. 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 .




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      1. Hi Sharon –
        I also have bronchiectasis and am in pursuit of some non-pharmaceutical tools to combat progression of my condition. I have my first visit with a naturopathic doctor on Monday and hope that I will learn some “tricks” that will reduce the number of exacerbations I have. I’ll be very interested to hear of your successes as you proceed with your plant-based diet. Please keep us posted! Have you decided to go vegetarian or will you include a small amount of fish, possibly chicken?




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  2. 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.




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    1.  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 :)




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  3. 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.




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  4. 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




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    1.  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?




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    2. 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! :)




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  5. 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!




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    1. 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! 




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    2. 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.




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  6. 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.




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    1. 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




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      1. What brand does she used. I have tried both those at different times and did not see much results?

        I also am on a plant based diet and have COPD and I still struggle. I continue to get worse. I also walk 30 minutes most days with oxygen and sometimes that is a struggle. Should I not eat rice or potatoes? I eat beans most nights with a salad and mushrooms.
        Juice veggies for lunch and fruit and nuts in the morning and still I am getting worse… so discouraging. Been Vegan over a year now.




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        1. It is now April and I feel much better, but this is not rare…. with copd there are good weeks and bad weeks, the difference is finding more good weeks then bad. I pray for the good weeks to be more and more as I live.
          The news about the Plant based diet gives hope but it is no quick fix, and the difference can be in years, not in months. I have probably had COPD for years, but was just diagnosed around 2013 where is notably started getting worse and started using inhaler as it got so bad could hardly walk or shower and ended up in immediate care. I did not start plant based diet until about a year ago and now on oxygen part of the time, but at testing they said I was an anomaly as I was still working and not on oxygen at that time in comparison to the test results for my breathing. I have severe COPD.
          The testing can also be flawed because you can take the test on a bad week. I refused oxygen the first time they tried to give to me. I refused it for a year, but finally gave in and now use it to walk the dog and mow the yard and go downstairs to do laundry, carry in the groceries. I still work.
          Things I think help is raw unprocessed sauerkraut for the probiotics and veggies and plant based diet, deep breathing, getting out in sunshine, staying active as possible and never give up. One thing I can say, is that I have never ended up in the hospital and never get lung infections, I don’t have any issues using some supplements but I am careful about those too, and never use Vit. E. I do take breaks from supplements too, we can get most of what we need from food. I am also fighting breast cancer naturally and have been for going on 9 years this August.
          I love Dr. Greger videos and learn a lot and change some things in diet because of it. I always have green tea at least once a day, now also Hibiscus, white button mushrooms, ground flax seed, and weekends make a huge berry smoothie that last a few days.
          I was curious about the brand of Serrapeptase and NAC that someone feels is making a difference.




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          1. First off I want to say that you are an inspiration and a very,very,strong person. May the Most High Bless you and heal you totally from your COPD and breast cancer. Now I use Dr. Best serrepeptase 40,000 -I.U’s 3x a day and when I had my last x-ray Ray’s not only was there no sign of scar tissue…It did not reveal any hyperinflation in my lungs as well. I also heard about all clear…which is a high dose of Serra enzymes being used to clear lungs out. Serrepeptase eats the unwanted,proteins, scar tissue and fibrous materials away in your body. Keep up the great work and blessings to you.




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        2. I was told serrepeptase​ helps COPD by removing scar tissue from the lungs. It breaks down and dissolves unwanted proteins in the body.




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  7. Dear Dr. Greger,

    I’ve recently recovered from an anxiety disorder by changing my diet and exercising, the last 8 years I’ve been fighting alone since I’ve refused medicine(the more I’ve read the more I’ve seen how that was the right decision). I’m now healthier and fitter than ever, however, my father is sick and I’m putting half my daily time into trying to research what I can do to help him…

    He’s got COPD, I’ve got him on a vegan varied diet and have him eating some acai berries. Managed to get him to start running too and he’s loving it.

    There’s a little background I don’t know if it matters, but here’s my question:

    I’ve been trying to access articles on PubMed that relates to his issues which seem helpful. However, the full articles seem hidden and I have no idea how this works. Isn’t all research available to the public? I thought there was some kind of honor-code when it comes to that? Is the only way to pay? Or is there some kind of library or something for this?

    (One of the many articles in question: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22963552 )

    If you’ve read this far, thank you so very very much, otherwise I’m in great great gratitude towards what you do for us by sharing all this wonderful information on the site.

    Your a hero and a life-saver!

    Thank you




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    1. Hi Vencenti, of course I am not Dr. G! I can say that PubMed articles are not all free, the article you sent link to – is not. One possible workaround is to check your local library for access to the specific journal – it may be available and may not. I do have access to my library database via computer but it does have limited journals and doesn’t have the article you are trying to see.




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      1. Hi Jacquie, thank you so very much for your answer. However unfortiunate. Do you happen to know why not all research is free? Wouldn’t that dramatically speed up it’s implementation into practice?

        I’m trying to get it through my library but during the summers… their open hours are… odd.

        Thanks again tho!




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    2. wonderful news so your dad is running now with COPD? That’s not only my goal but amazing. what is your dads fev score by the way?




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  8. Healing from COPD, i never taught dr.abegbu who could ever get my COPD cured with his healing herbs, i have tried almost everything but i couldn’t find any solution on my disease, despite all these happening to me, i always spend a lot to buy a COPD drugs from hospital and taking some several medications but no relieve, until one day i was just browsing on the internet when i come across a great post of ! Williams Fran-ca who truly said that she was been diagnose with COPD and was healed that very week through the help of these great powerful healing doctor, sometime i really wonder why people called him Baba ABEGBU i never knew it was all because of the great and perfect work that he has been doing that is causing all this. so i quickly contacted him, and he ask me some few questions and he said a thing i will never forget that anyone who contacted him, is always getting his or her healing after take the herbs cure in a week so i was amazed all the time i heard that from him, so i did all things only to see that at the very day which he said i will be healed, all the strength that has left me before rush back and i became very strong and healthy, this disease almost kills my life all because of me, so i rush to hospital for the final test. So the disease and the doctor said i am COPD negative, i am very amazed and happy about the healing DR.ABEGBU gave to me from the ancient part of Africa, you can email him now for your own healing too at DR.ABEGBUHEALER@GMAIL.COM




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  9. A must Read.

    This was how i cure my COPD God bless Dr.Uzaba for his marvelous work in my life, I was diagnosed of COPD since 2013 and I was taking my medications, I wasn’t satisfied i needed to get the COPD out of my system, I searched about some possible cure for COPD i saw a comment about Dr. Uzaba , how he cured COPD with his herbal medicine, I contacted him and he guided me. I asked for solutions, he started the remedy for my health, he sent me the medicine through UPS SPEED POST. I took the medicine as prescribed by him and 14 days later i was cured from COPD ,thank you Spiritual Uzaba Temple you can email him

    Spiritualuzabatemple@gmail.com or call +2349031695243

    Name :Mr Alexander Francisco




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  10. I smoked for many years, but quit about 20 years ago. I am 65 years old. Until recently, I considered myself to be very healthy and fit. I am treating some osteoporosis and high cholesterol, but with a small dose of statin and my vegan diet I actually got my cholesterol down to 157 with the LDL only 74. I am active, with an excellent BMI. No other health issues or symptoms. I hike, walk upstairs, kayak, garden, horseback ride, lift weights at the gym, and generally feel as well now as I when I was 40 or even younger. I was recently asked if I would like to have a lung cancer screening using a low dose CT. As a former smoker I accepted. I was shocked when it came back that I have emphysema. I have not seen the pulmonary dr yet so I don’t know much else. I do know I have no symptoms at this point. No shortness of breathe, no wheezing, coughing, phlegm, or tightness. I am reading all I can here about foods to combat this. And I am offering myself as a case study if Dr Gregor or anyone else is interested.




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