Like everyone else, people with pulmonary hypertension (PH) feel their best when they consistently eat a healthy, balanced diet. By choosing the right foods, people with PH can improve disease symptoms and avoid developing some serious complications.
Some popular diets may contain toxic levels of some nutrients or dangerously low levels of others. No diet is ever a good substitute for clinically proven PH drug therapies.
What does it involve?
Always consult your doctor before making significant changes to your diet.
Limiting your salt intake is one of the most important dietary changes you can make. The sodium in food you eat raises blood pressure and increases fluid retention, both of which contribute to shortness of breath. Experiment with using lemon juice or different spices such as pepper or curry powder as a way of enhancing the taste of food. Avoid fast food, processed foods, and cured, smoked, or canned meats, since they often contain high levels of sodium.
Fluid levels are another important factor in controlling PH symptoms. In PH, your body has trouble eliminating extra liquids. Excess fluid can worsen swelling and shortness of breath. Ask your doctor how much fluid you should consume each day, and carefully monitor your intake. Soup, popsicles, and gelatin count as fluids. Be sure to count the water with which you take medications. Ask your doctor about consuming alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, which may interfere with your medications or exacerbate some PH symptoms.
If you are overweight, this puts even more stress on your lungs to supply enough oxygen to your body. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight will help you feel your best, improve some symptoms of PH, and help prevent or manage diabetes. Consult your doctor to determine a healthy target weight for you. Weigh yourself once a week, and keep track of the measurements to know how much you are losing or gaining over time.
Many people with PH have diabetes, high cholesterol, or other disorders related to dietary fat and sugar. Talk to your doctor about getting your blood sugar and fat levels tested and determining healthy limits for these nutrients in your diet. Your physician may recommend that you limit your intake of foods high in refined sugar, saturated fat, and cholesterol, such as pastries, cookies, candy, fatty meats, and deep-fried foods.
Getting enough iron in your diet can improve your body’s ability to get enough oxygen. Iron occurs naturally in foods such as shellfish, poultry giblets, meat (especially liver), dried fruits, legumes such as beans and peas, and dark green leafy vegetables. Cereals and other grain-based foods are often fortified with iron during processing; check labels to be certain.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, including Vitamin C. Antioxidants are nutrients that may help prevent cancer and reduce inflammation. Antioxidants have also been linked to good pulmonary health. Foods such as peppers, cantaloupe, citrus, tomatoes, mango, pineapple and berries are especially rich in Vitamin C. Fresh produce is also often high in fiber, vitamins and minerals and lower in calories. Eat as many of these foods as possible.
If you take blood thinning medications such as Coumadin (Warfarin), ask your doctor about limiting your intake of vitamin K, which can interfere with the drug’s effects. Vitamin K occurs in dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
Keeping a food journal that tracks what you eat and how you feel each day can be a powerful tool for understanding how what you eat and drink impacts your condition. You may even discover specific foods that cause negative reactions. You will then be able to eliminate those foods.
Be sure to ask your doctor before taking vitamins or dietary supplements, as they can cause dangerous interactions with certain PH medications.
Optimizing your nutrition will help you remain strong, fight infections, and feel more energetic. Consistently eating a healthy diet, avoiding sodium and problem foods, and monitoring fluid intake can help you breathe better and reduce fluid retention and swelling.
Side effects of some PH medications, which can include nausea and loss of appetite, may make it difficult to eat regular meals or focus on a healthy diet.
Breathlessness and fatigue may make it more difficult to find the energy to prepare fresh, healthy meals. Making large batches of food in advance and freezing several portions for the future can help conserve energy.
You may feel disappointed to give up favorite foods. However, think of diet changes as a chance to explore unfamiliar foods and find new favorites.
Depending on where you live and whether you need to use oxygen therapy when you leave the house, it may be harder to get to a grocery store with a good selection of produce and other healthy foods.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Pulmonary Hypertension Diet – Pulmonary Hypertension News
Diet and Nutrition – Pulmonary Hypertension Association
Living With Pulmonary Hypertension: Dietary & Lifestyle Changes – Cleveland Clinic