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

Fluids continued...

Cow''s Milk Does NOT Create Excess Mucus

One of the most common mistaken food beliefs is that drinking cow''s milk causes an excess of mucus in the nasal passages, throat and lungs. Athletes have been known to avoid it before a competition. Actors and opera singers avoid it before a performance. Yet, there is little evidence to show that the relationship is true. There is much information that the opposite is true.

Section B:

In one study, volunteers who drank cow''s milk or soy-based milk, reported similar sensations for both beverages. (Both milks were disguised with chocolate flavoring). In another study, subjects who had a cold virus kept records of their dairy product intake and their symptoms. Those who believed "milk makes mucus" reported more symptoms when they consumed milk. However, an independent measure of their nasal secretions showed they were similar to the non-milk consumers.

Mucus production is part of the body''s defense mechanism against infections. It traps bacteria and dust. It carries them to places where they can be destroyed. The sensation some people have when they drink milk can be explained in two ways. When you drink milk, some of the proteins may bind to and thicken the proteins in your saliva. This is particularly true around your saliva ducts. This may cause a sensation that you are producing thick mucus. Also, the fats in milk may leave a soft, filmy coating in the mouth and throat. This increases the sensation. The perception is short-lived and confined to the mouth and throat. It does not include the sinuses, nasal passages or lungs. The production of mucus from our nasal passages and throat may thicken as we age. So, older people should drink enough fluids to keep these secretions thin.

Don''t remove milk from your diet without a good reason.

For those who are not lactose-intolerant, milk can play an important role in supplying calcium, riboflavin, protein and vitamins A, D and B-12. If the sensation is troublesome, try consuming lowfat or skim milk instead of whole milk.


An excess amount of sodium chloride, common table salt, can cause fluid retention, increased blood pressure and shortness of breath. (Fluid retention is called edema.) A sodium-restricted diet can help with decreasing water retention. In some people, such a diet may decrease high blood pressure. If your doctor has asked that you reduce your sodium, follow these guidelines:

  • Do not use added salt while making food or for food served at the table.
  • Read labels and ingredients on all foods. Avoid those that contain salt.
  • Read the sodium content on the labels. Look for products having less than 140 mg sodium per serving or labeled "low sodium."
  • Pay close attention to packaged foods that have more than 140 mg of sodium per serving, such as:
    • Cured smoked and canned meats, bologna, frankfurters, ham and salami.
    • Regular canned vegetables, soups and vegetable juices.
    • Salted snacks (nuts, pretzels, chips).
    • Regular frozen meals.
    • Foods in brine (pickles, olives, sauerkraut, feta cheese).
    • Regular processed cheeses.
    • Seasoned salt, meat tenderizer, MSG.
    • Soy sauce, barbecue sauce.

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