Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

COPD Health Center

Font Size

COPD Diet Guidelines: Protein, Calcium, Reducing Sodium, and More

WebMD Medical Reference from the COPD Foundation


In the previous sections, you found some practical and useful tips to help you deal with many of the tough nutritional issues you may face daily. As important is an understanding of why some of the other essential dietary elements are needed to maintain health. The list of nutrients needed by our bodies is long. However, we will discuss only a few that are especially important in lung disease.

Also, some medicines for lung disease react with some nutrients. You should consult with your doctor or dietitian about possible interactions with the specific medicines you are taking.


Protein is important because it plays an essential role in protecting the body. It produces antibodies to fight infection. Loss of protein and the general difficulty to maintain a good nutritional status may severely reduce the lungs'' ability to defend against infection, in COPD patients.

The primary sources of protein are meat, fish, eggs, poultry, legumes and dairy products. If you are not getting enough protein in your diet use the following guidelines. These guidelines are also helpful if you have an infection and need extra protein:

  • Add skim milk powder to hot milk, cereal, eggs, soups, casseroles, gravies and ground meat dishes. This will add extra protein and calcium to your diet.
  • Add chopped high protein poultry, meats, cheese or legumes to soups and casseroles and vegetables. Nuts also can be added.
  • Blend finely chopped hard-boiled egg or egg substitute into a sauce, gravy or soup.
  • Include high protein snacks such as pasteurized eggnog, instant breakfast and puddings in your diet. Commercially prepared supplements may be needed in some cases.
  • Have peanut butter, bean dips, nuts, cottage cheese or other cheese with snacks to add additional protein and calories.
  • Try using double strength milk (add 1 cup powdered milk to 1 quart whole milk).


Drinking enough fluids is essential for the thinning and clearance of your pulmonary secretions.

Also, supplemental oxygen therapy may dry your mucus membranes and cause irritation. Fluids keep you hydrated. The recommended fluid intake for COPD patients is 8 to 12 cups of caffeine-free liquids per day. (A total of 64 to 86 ounces). Water is essential to the body. It helps prevent constipation. Drinking plain water may be your best source of fluid. Fruit juices, decaffeinated coffee and tea are also good sources. Milk is a good source of fluid. It has the added benefit of providing many healthy nutrients. Ask your primary care provider about the amount of fluid you should drink each day.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Today on WebMD

man talking to his doctor
Check your COPD risk.
woman using inhaler
What is the top cause of this condition?
chest x-ray
7 early warning signs.
Senior couple stretching
10 exercises for people With COPD.
Bronchitis Overview
Senior woman blowing dandelion
Living With Copd
human lung graphic
Energy Boosting Foods
red heart and ekg
Living With Copd
Senior couple stretching