Fluid in the lungs may not make you think about your heart, but congestive heart failure is the most common cause of the buildup of fluids in your lungs, also known as pulmonary edema. CHF occurs when your heart is too weak to pump blood efficiently throughout your body, leading to the accumulation of fluids, which, in turn, makes your heart work even harder. A low-sodium diet can decrease the workload of your heart and help prevent the accumulation of fluids in your lungs. Consult your doctor before making changes to your diet.
Low-Sodium Diet Basics
Getting too much sodium in your diet causes your body to retain fluids. Limiting your intake to no more than 2,000 milligrams a day may help control the accumulation of lung fluids. The first thing you can do to limit sodium in your diet is to stop adding salt to food. One teaspoon of salt contains almost 2,400 milligrams of sodium. You can also use food labels to help you track your intake. Look for foods that have less than 250 milligrams of sodium per serving.
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You can easily limit your daily sodium intake by eating more fresh foods and fewer packaged foods. Fruits, vegetables, plain rices and pasta, fresh meat prepared without high-sodium sauces, beans, eggs, milk and yogurt are all naturally low in sodium. Use herbs and spices to add flavor to your food without the need for salt. Vinegar, lemons and fruit juice also add flavor to food without sodium.
Watch What You Drink
If your lungs are accumulating too much fluid, you may need to limit the amount you drink in addition to your sodium intake. The amount of fluid you should drink depends on the severity of your fluid retention and ranges from 6 to 9 cups a day. In addition to water, juice and coffee, you also have to count fluids in your hot cereal, soups and gelatin. Ice cream and sherbet are also considered fluids.
Putting It All Together
A healthy diet to control lung fluid should include three meals with one to two snacks. A good breakfast might include whole wheat toast with all-fruit jam, a boiled egg, a banana and a 4-ounce container of yogurt. For lunch, you might enjoy mixed greens topped with grilled chicken, walnuts, raisins, balsamic vinegar and oil with an apple and whole-wheat low-sodium crackers. A healthy low-sodium dinner meal might include broiled salmon flavored with lemon and pepper, a baked sweet potato and broccoli sauteed with olive oil and garlic. Snack options might include carrot sticks and celery sticks with no-salt peanut butter or a fresh pear with low-sodium cheese.