Chronic lung diseases

Chronic lung disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the collective name for a group of lung diseases including bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease. People with COPD have difficulties breathing due to the narrowing of their airways and the condition generally gets worse over time.

People who eat a healthy diet based on wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, pulses and low in red and processed meats, refined grains and sugary drinks have a much lower risk of developing COPD. And in people who already have COPD, the condition is much more manageable if they adopt a plant-based diet with high intake of fruit and vitamin E-rich foods (nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, avocados etc.).

It may be the fibre in this type of diet (especially in the wholegrains and fruits) that helps. Fibre is a natural anti-inflammatory and can be used to reduce inflammation, which is a feature of COPD.

It may be the antioxidants (such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, flavonoids and selenium) found in a healthy vegan diet. Antioxidants are the good guys battling to preserve your health. They go around the body mopping up free radicals which are chemicals naturally produced in the body and known to cause damage and disease. Low levels of antioxidants in the blood are a sign of poor immunity and disease. So a good supply of antioxidants is crucial for health.

Plant foods are the best source of antioxidants. Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, pulses (peas, beans and lentils), wholegrain foods such as brown rice, oats, wholemeal bread and wholemeal pasta, nuts and seeds. Think of a great big fresh salad with green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, sprouted seeds, mango and avocado as sending the cavalry in!

A vegan diet rich in antioxidants and fibre can have a beneficial effect on lung health. Find out what you do need to eat each day here

Read more about chronic lung diseases.

 

 

A varied diet based on the foods in the table below ensures adequate intake of all essential nutrients and many more beneficial ones such as antioxidants. A healthy vegan diet is one consisting mainly of fruit and vegetables, pulses, wholegrains and nuts and seeds. It provides the body with all it needs and the only vitamin required to be supplemented is vitamin B12. It can be taken either in the form of food supplements or enriched foods, such as plant milks or margarines. B12 supplementation is not only recommended to vegans but to everyone over the age of 50, regardless of the diet, as the body’s ability to absorb this vitamin declines with age.

Over the winter months, vitamin D supplementation is also recommended to everyone in the UK. Not all vitamin D is vegan though - vitamin D2 is and some vitamin D3 can be too but make sure you know the source (most vitamin D3 is animal derived).

To ensure sufficient intake of essential omega-3 fats, natural sources should be made part of a daily diet – milled flaxseed (linseed) or hempseed and their oils for cold food preparation, rapeseed oil for cooking and some nuts and seeds as a healthy addition to meals – eg walnuts and chia seeds.