Two and half years of trialling different nutrition options to help improve my COPD symptoms has led me to a couple of conclusions. Firstly – Nutrition absolutely matters when managing my COPD. Secondly – The majority of respiratory professionals I am in contact with rarely give nutrition a thought when planning a strategy to help patients manage their disease better.
Why doesn’t nutrition matter?
To be perfectly honest I have yet to come across a doctor who has nutritional training. Fact is in many countries’ nutrition is not part of a doctors training. With this in mind it would be unfair to expect your doctor to give nutritional advice. With the weight of new and old evidence showing nutrition does matter, isn’t it time our doctors changed their thinking?
I’m not for one minute suggesting all doctors need to go back to university and study nutrition. What I am suggesting is utilising nutritional professionals and doctors referring respiratory patients to suitably qualified nutritional professionals.
My own N=1 experiment over the last 2 ½ years have shown me there are many benefits to using the right nutritional approach to my COPD. The feedback I have received from patients who have applied the same nutritional strategy I have is very positive.
Dietary Guidelines For COPD
Hmmm, where do I start! At best dietary guidelines for COPD patients are confusing. Some guidelines talk about patients eating plenty of carbohydrates as they are full of nutrients and are the main fuel supply for our body. Other guidelines talk about limiting carbohydrates as they can increase breathlessness in patients.Then you have the multitude of articles flooding the internet telling patients to eat everything bar the kitchen sink.
So, what is the answer? Scrap dietary guidelines for COPD patients! How can you really give nutritional guidelines in an age of personalised medicine? The fact is we are all different and not everyone is able to eat the same foods. Patients are intolerant to all different types of foods. If there has to be a dietary guideline for COPD patients maybe it can be a very un-confusing one-line statement – “Avoid processed carbohydrates, sugar and seek advice from a qualified dietitian experienced in treating respiratory patients”! This one simple statement if adhered to would improve the quality of life for most COPD patients.
The COPD Nutrition Experiment.
To prove my point, I have decided to conduct my own N=1 experiment. Over a four-week period I am eating to the current dietary guidelines for COPD patients in Australia. I have found similar guidelines in other countries, so regardless of where you live this experiment is relevant to you. Before I started the diet, I had blood tests which included inflammatory markers, lung function tests and my starting weight. Each week I will measure my lung function and at the end of the four weeks will retest all previous tests.
The point of all this is to test different dietary strategies to see which one works best for me. If you have been following my journey you will know I’m a fan of a low carbohydrate high fat/ketogenic diet. When I have finished my dietary experiment I will be able to compare my blood work and lung function results from both diets.
Hopefully whatever happens there will be some useful information for everyone which can be used to improve their own quality of life. I will be posting weekly video updates on my COPD Athlete Facebook page. So, feel free to come and have a look at my progress.