Foods That May Worsen Your Lung Health

Lung health is important. It’s no secret that certain foods make us feel a certain way. When you get diagnosed with a respiratory disease, one of the first things your doctor recommends is a change in lifestyle and diet to help prevent symptom flare-ups and other complications. Have you felt an increase in shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing lately? It could be the foods you choose to eat. In a previous article we talk about creating a healthy COPD diet. In this article we will cover the foods you should avoid.


Processed meats tend to be high in nitrates. Yes, this helps preserve the food, but they do not do any favors for your health. According to WebMD, this is because they cannot be broken down by stomach acid. Therefore, your gut biome breaks nitrate into nitrite which can then cause health complications. Most processed meats contain nitrates. Meats commonly known for adding nitrates are:

  1. Bacon
  2. Hot Dogs
  3. Deli Meat

Fried Foods

Fried foods are never suggested in any healthy diet. This is because they are full of unhealthy fats that cause a raise in cholesterol and can also increase the risk of heart disease. While delicious, these foods cause bloating making it uncomfortable to breathe. Enough fried food over time will also cause weight gain and weight gain may increase pressure on your lungs. Most common fried foods to avoid:

  1. French Fries
  2. Fried Chicken
  3. Onion rings

Carbonated Drinks

These drinks are filled with empty calories, lots of sugar, and carbonation. Similar to fried foods, carbonated drinks contribute to weight gain and bloating, which in turn, may put unnecessary pressure on your lungs. When it doubt, choose water! Here are some examples of carbonated beverages:

  1. Sodas (Pop)
  2. Sparkling wine/cider
  3. Beer

Acidic Foods and Drinks Dairy

Acidic foods and drinks tend to create heartburn. According to a study in Journal Chest, people with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are at a higher risk for developing acid reflux. While citrus fruits, such as oranges, are a great source of vitamin C, they may trigger acid reflux. Keep an eye out for signs of heartburn after eating citrus fruits and other acidic foods or drinks, make a note to avoid them or lessen your intake in the future. Limiting or avoiding them all together can help reduce lung disease symptoms. Other examples of these are:

  1. Fruit Juice
  2. Tomato sauce
  3. Spicy Food


For those with lung disease, dairy products may worsen your lung health. Milk, for example, contains a breakdown product that causes mucus in the intestines to increase. People with lung disease, such as COPD, often experiences an increase in mucus during flare-ups. Other foods (not just dairy based) that can cause mucus to thicken include:

  1. Excess Salt or Sugar
  2. Corn
  3. Potatoes
  4. Cabbage

If you have a lung disease, such as COPD, emphysema or pulmonary fibrosis, you might experience lung inflammation. This is why anti-inflammatory foods are crucial to any respiratory health diet. Take care of your lung health.

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