Diet Foods for Respiratory Lung Problems

Lungs are paired, spongy organs that allow you to breathe. The term chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, refers to numerous lung diseases, including emphysema, refractory asthma and chronic bronchitis. Other conditions that can affect your lungs include lung cancer, lung injuries and cystic fibrosis. Although these conditions vary in specifics, each can cause pain, exhaustion and breathing difficulty. In addition to medical treatments, a healthy diet geared toward respiratory health may help reduce your symptoms.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables play an important role in most healthy diets, including those for improved lung health. As top sources of antioxidants, they strengthen your body's ability to fend off diseases and infections. Avoiding foods that trigger gas or bloating is important if you have COPD, according to the Cleveland Clinic, because a bloated abdomen can worsen breathing problems. Potentially gaseous fruits and vegetables include apples, melons, beans, onions, hot peppers, radishes and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables less likely to trigger gas include berries, citrus fruits, mango, tomatoes, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, baked potatoes and winter squash.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds provide healthy, unsaturated fats and valuable nutrients, including the antioxidant vitamin E. The oil present in nuts and seeds may help reduce mucus production, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, UMMC. For heightened benefits, replace saturated fat sources, such as butter and margarine, in your diet with almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and flaxseed. Adding nuts, seeds and nut butters, such as almond and peanut butter, to your meals and snacks can help you maintain proper caloric intake and prevent undue weight loss, which is important particularly if lung problems have caused reduced appetite.

Cold-Water Fish

Cold-water fish are valuable sources of protein, which promotes tissue repair and physical strength important for recovery, and omega-3 fatty acids. The UMMC recommends fish as a healthy alternative to red meat and regular omega-3 fat consumption for improved immune function and reduced inflammation. Fish particularly high in omega-3 fats include salmon, albacore tuna, herring, lake trout, flounder, sardines, mackerel and halibut. For best results, use low-fat cooking methods, such as baking, broiling, steaming and grilling atop nonstick cooking spray or olive oil.

Whole Grains

Whole grains contain all nutritious components of the grain. As a result, they provide more protein, fiber and antioxidants than refined grains, such as white flour. The Cleveland Clinic recommends that people with lung conditions consume fiber-rich foods, including whole grains. Whole grains also provide glucose -- your body's top food source of energy. Try replacing refined foods, such as enriched breads, pasta, cereal and snack foods, with whole grains. Examples of nutritious whole-grain foods include 100 percent whole-grain breads and pasta, steel-cut oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, pearled barley and air-popped popcorn.