Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of progressive lung diseases, including common ones like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. According to the American Lung Association, COPD is the third leading cause of death in the US, behind cancer and heart disease. More than 15.3 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, and many millions more may be living with it without being aware of it. Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure for COPD, but there are some natural options to ease its symptoms.
Antioxidants vs. COPD
When a person develops COPD, their inflammatory cytokine levels rise. Oxidants have long been recognized to play a vital role in the development of this disease. This is exacerbated by air pollution and cigarette smoke, which generate plenty of free radicals that can modify the structure of the respiratory tract and enhance mechanisms that sustain the lung inflammation characterized in COPD. To counter this oxidative stress inflicted by these radicals, consuming antioxidants like N-acetylcysteine (NAC) can help protect the body against COPD.
A study published in the journal Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine found that NAC directly contrasted the oxidants and interfered with the processes that fuel the development of COPD. The researchers observed that the respiratory level of oxidants decreased after the administration of NAC, which showed that it can be an effective complementary therapy to slow the rate of development and ease symptoms in COPD patients.
Using diet to deal with COPD
Aside from NAC, antioxidant-rich fruits like red raspberries are another thing you should consider adding to your diet to help deal with the symptoms. These red powerhouses harbor several essential micronutrients, dietary fiber and polyphenolic components like ellagitannins and anthocyanins. These anthocyanins not only give raspberries their beautiful color, they also make these superfoods a great addition to dietary strategies that can help modulate the inflammatory status in patients with COPD.
Not only are raspberries vibrant and delicious, they also provide a wide variety of health benefits. These berries are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that all contribute to overall good health. Here is a list of some noteworthy benefits of adding raspberries to your diet. (Related: Raspberries provide significant protective benefit against cancer, chronic inflammation and more.)
- They can assist in weight loss and gut health. Raspberries are high in dietary fiber, manganese and prebiotic compounds that help with weight loss and improve gut health. Dietary fiber delays gastric emptying, making you feel satisfied and full for much longer. Further, fiber also helps to regulate your bowel movements. The prebiotics help beneficial gut bacteria grow and flourish, which help support gut health.
- They harbor anti-cancer properties. These berries are packed with antioxidants. A study published in the Journal of Carcinogenesis found that the phytochemicals found in raspberries can inhibit carcinogenesis, therefore exhibiting anti-cancer effects. The antioxidants prevent cell damage by targeting and neutralizing free radicals.
- They help boost brainpower. A study published in the journal Nutrients suggests that eating a diet rich in antioxidants can improve the health of the brain and neurological system.
- They help protect the eyes. Raspberries contain the antioxidant zeaxanthin, which has been shown to filter out harmful blue light rays. This can play a potential role in protecting the eyes from problems like age-related macular degeneration, which leads to vision loss due to retinal damage.
Diet is an essential factor in maintaining overall health. By adding certain foods and supplements to your diet, you can effectively ease the symptoms of diseases like COPD without the need for conventional medicines.