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Emphysema Treatment and Prevention


Nutrition and Diet for Emphysema


Some evidence suggests that poor nutrition, particularly deficiencies in antioxidants and certain minerals including vitamins A, C, and E, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc is associated with having COPD and, possibly, with worsened lung function. Such nutrients can be obtained from an adequate daily intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.

  • Quit smoking, smoking triggers asthma attack
  • Avoid those allergens that triggers your asthma attack
  • Breath from your belly not from your lungs, breathing from the belly makes you relaxed and more comfortable. Anxiety and stress contributes to asthma attack
  • Lose weight if you are overweight and already have asthma; although the connection between obesity and asthma is not entirely understood, excess weight may put pressure on the lungs and trigger an inflammatory response thus an asthma attack.
  • Monitor your asthma every day using a peak flow monitor (a portable device for measuring the highest exhalation flow, which is an indicator of lung volume). Working with your doctor to adjust medications according to readings may reduce hospitalizations and improve quality of life.
  • Keep a diary of readings to show your doctor; together, you will establish your "personal best" reading. When your daily reading is between 50% and 80% of your personal best, this is considered a moderate asthma attack while values below 50% are severe. You should call your doctor if your peak flow reading falls below 80% and go to the hospital if it falls below 50%.
  • Keep a diary of respiratory complaints - this may help determine triggers of athma attack
  • Decorate with potted plants. Plants removes allergens from air and give out oxygen.
Supplements for Emphysema

Nutrition and Dietary Supplements for Asthma

Because supplements may have side effects or interact with medications, they should be taken only under the supervision of a knowledgeable healthcare provider. Be sure to talk to your physician about any supplements you are taking or considering taking.


Although not studied in people with COPD specifically, bromelain (a mixture of protein-digesting enzymes found in pineapples [Ananas comosus]) can help reduce cough and diminish mucus production from a respiratory infection. In theory, therefore, it may be able to do the same if you have chronic bronchitis.


Magnesium deficiency may be associated with an increased risk of developing emphysema and other lung diseases. Sometimes, intravenous magnesium (that is, magnesium delivered through a vein) is part of the treatment for a COPD flare-up in the hospital. The doctor will determine if this is necessary or appropriate.

It is not known whether eating foods rich in magnesium or taking magnesium supplements will reduce your chances of developing emphysema. Such foods, however, including legumes, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables, should be a regular part of a healthy diet anyway.

Some clinicians recommend checking your magnesium level (a simple blood test) if you have COPD and taking magnesium supplements if your levels are low.

N-acetylecysteine (NAC)

A review of scientific studies found that NAC may help dissolve mucus and improve symptoms associated with chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Smokers may also benefit from NAC supplementation. Studies on large groups of people have found that NAC appears to have cancer prevention properties in people who are at risk for lung cancer (like chronic smokers who are also at risk for COPD).

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Some experts believe that dietary and supplemental forms of omega-3 fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in walnuts and flaxseeds, may prove helpful as part of your treatment for COPD. Scientific research is needed.

Vitamin C

According to some clinicians, taking vitamin C supplements is "safe and reasonable" if you have COPD, especially if you continue to smoke. Research to date is limited, however, and more studies are needed to know if this is truly helpful if you have COPD. In the interim, it is worthwhile to obtain adequate amounts of vitamin C by eating plenty of fresh fruit. In fact, just increasing the amount of fruit you eat by one or two servings per week may help improve lung function.


Other supplements that have gained popularity for COPD, but need further study before comment can be made regarding their value include:

* Coenzyme Q10
* L-carnitine


Exercise for Emphysema


Exercise helps some people with COPD. By strengthening your legs and arms and improving endurance, you may reduce breathlessness somewhat. Walking, for example, is a good exercise to build endurance. Talk to your doctor and/or respiratory therapist about how to build up slowly and safely. Attending a comprehensive pulmonary rehabilitation is the best way to learn exercise and safe breathing techniques (see below).


There are breathing exercises (for example, a pursed lip technique, breathing from the diaphragm, or using a spirometer [breathing device] twice a day) that may help improve lung function. Talk to your doctor about working with a respiratory therapist in order to learn such exercises. It is important, when learning breathing techniques, to work with an appropriately trained professional because the techniques are not good for everyone with COPD. Attending pulmonary rehabilitation is the best way to learn exercise and breathing techniques.

alternative medicine for emphysema