Treating Malnutrition in People with Chronic Lung Disease
Weight, muscle mass, and muscle strength improve in people with COPD when food supplements provide some of each day's nutrition
Malnutrition is a common problem in people with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which leads to weakness and higher risk of dangerous respiratory infections. A new review of the research found that weight, muscle mass, and muscle strength improve in people with COPD when food supplements are used to provide some of each day's nutritional needs.
Looking over the data
The new review was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and included data from 13 trials in which a combined total of 439 people with COPD (emphysema with or without chronic bronchitis) were either treated with food supplements or given placebo. Most of the studies used liquid food supplements taken by mouth, but one study used a food supplement given through a feeding tube at night. The participants in most of the studies also received nutritional guidance to encourage them to eat more calories and especially more protein.
Food supplements bring changes for the better
When the data was combined and analyzed, the reviewers noted the following:
Previous reviews, including a highly regarded Cochrane Review, have not been able to show a benefit for food supplements in people with COPD; however, the authors of the current review used a more thorough analysis that revealed the positive effects. They emphasized the possible importance of their findings, noting that a weight gain of approximately 2 kg or more (similar to the average weight gain in people treated with food supplements in this review) has, in some studies, been associated with better health and longer survival in people with COPD.
Taking care of sick lungs
Since smoking is the main cause of COPD, quitting smoking is the most important thing people with COPD can do to improve their health. Based on the results of this review, people with COPD can also consider using a food supplement to boost their calorie and protein intake and improve their nutritional and health status. Here are some other things to consider:
(Am J Clin Nutr 2012;95:1385-95)
Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, received her doctoral degree from Bastyr University, the nation's premier academic institution for science-based natural medicine. She co-founded South County Naturopaths in Wakefield, RI, where she practiced whole family care with an emphasis on nutritional counseling, herbal medicine, detoxification, and food allergy identification and treatment. Her blog, Eat Happy, helps take the drama out of healthy eating with real food recipes and nutrition news that you can use. Dr. Beauchamp is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.