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Eating well for healthier lungs

Why is my diet important?

It’s important to eat a nutritionally balanced and varied diet, and to maintain a healthy body weight. If you have a lung condition, eating well is especially important. Foods and fluids contain essential nutrients to help prevent infections and keep your lungs healthy.

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What is a balanced diet?

Eating a well-balanced diet can help control your symptoms and keep you feeling as strong and fit as possible. A well-balanced diet includes five key food groups, shown below:


Each of these food groups helps keep you and your lungs healthy:

  • Fruit and vegetables have vitamins and minerals that support your immune system to help you fight off chest infections.
  • Starchy carbohydrates give your body energy for breathing and everyday tasks. Choose high fibre or wholegrain versions, such as brown pasta and rice or wholemeal bread. They’ll make you feel fuller for longer, protect your heart and keep your bowels moving.
  • Protein helps to keep your muscles strong, including your chest muscles that help your ribs expand as you breathe. This helps you get the most out of exercise and pulmonary rehabilitation (PR). Protein is also important for your immune system.
  • Dairy foods are a good source of proteins, vitamins and minerals – including calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones. Calcium is important if you take steroids, which increases the risk of brittle bones or osteoporosis.
  • Oils contain a range of vitamins, such as vitamins A and E which are important for fighting infections.

To find out more, have a look at the interactive eatwell guide.

Whatever your weight, a well-balanced diet will help make sure you get all the nutrients you need to help keep you healthy. Remember, if you’re very active or exercising daily, you may need to eat more to give your body the energy and nutrients it needs.

How much water do I need to drink?

It’s very important to drink plenty of fluid. This helps keep you hydrated and keeps mucus moving. If mucus sits in your airways and lungs, you’re more likely to get an infection.

Aim to drink a minimum of 6 to 8 cups of fluid a day. This can include water, tea, coffee, milk, squash or fruit juice. But limit fruit juice and smoothies to one small glass (150ml) a day. The colour of your urine is a good indicator to check you are hydrated: it should be clear or pale yellow. If it’s darker, try to drink more fluid.

Next: staying a healthy weight >>

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Download our eating well PDF (1.6MB)