What is the best protein powder for COPD patients?

Written by Jack Schrupp and reviewed by Ella McGonagle, M.S. Nutrition

drink wholesome is the best protein powder for COPD patients. It is additive-free, dairy-free, and made with minimally-processed whole foods, not protein isolates. Order samples to see if our protein powder is right for you. 

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drink wholesome is the best protein powder for COPD patients.

What is COPD?

Is protein powder good for COPD patients?

What is the best protein powder for COPD patients? 

Why drink wholesome?

What is COPD?


COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is a chronic (long-term) respiratory condition that affects the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. COPD is a progressive disease, meaning it worsens over time.

COPD is primarily caused by long-term exposure to irritants that damage the lungs and airways. The most common cause of COPD is smoking, including both active smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. However, prolonged exposure to other lung irritants such as air pollution, chemical fumes, and dust can also contribute to the development of COPD.

The two main forms of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic bronchitis involves inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to a persistent cough, excess mucus production, and difficulty breathing. Emphysema, on the other hand, involves damage to the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs, reducing their elasticity and impairing the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

While COPD cannot be cured, various treatments are available to manage symptoms, slow down the progression of the disease, and improve quality of life. These may include medications such as bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids, pulmonary rehabilitation programs, oxygen therapy, and lifestyle changes.

making a protein shake with protein powder

Is protein powder good for COPD patients?


Diet plays an important role in managing COPD for two reasons. Firstly, COPD patients have increased energy and protein needs. Second, COPD patients tend to not eat enough calories and protein. Together, these factors contribute to malnutrition, which is associated with weight loss, muscle wasting, and poorer pulmonary function.

Loss of appetite, which is often the result of difficulty breathing, is the most common cause of malnutrition for people with COPD. This is where nutritional supplementation can be an important therapeutic intervention. Supplements like protein shakes, which are easy to make and drink, fill in gaps in the diet. This, in turn, helps individuals with COPD get the calories and protein they need to increase or maintain body weight and muscle strength. The latter is particularly important because without certain muscles, we would not be able to breath.

woman drinking a protein shake

What is the best protein powder for COPD patients?


Although protein powder can be used in many ways, it is most commonly used to make protein shakes, which are a convenient source of nutrition, and a great option for COPD patients struggling to eat enough protein. It is important to note, however, that not all protein powders are equal. The majority of protein powders contain emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners, sweeteners, and flavors, which can lead to uncomfortable side effects and long-term damage to the digestive system.

If you stay up-to-date on the latest medical research, you are likely familiar with the concept of the gut microbiome — the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food — and its role in the development of chronic diseases. Furthermore, you may have come across studies associating disruptions to the gut microbiome with the pathogenesis of COPD. 

Although the exact pathogenesis of COPD remains largely unknown, recent research shows that cross-talk between gut microbes and the lungs, referred to as the “gut-lung axis,” is known to impact immune response and homeostasis in the airway. Basically, a perturbed gut microbiome contributes to chronic inflammation, which is one of the leading causes of chronic bronchitis. 

Including protein powder in your diet can be an effective way to ensure adequate protein and calorie consumption. Given the complex interaction of microbiota and immune response on the gut-lung axis, however, it is crucial to exercise caution when selecting a protein powder for COPD patients. Keep reading to learn more.

Why drink wholesome


drink wholesome is additive-free.

One of the reasons why we make the protein powder for COPD patients is that we do not use food additives. Unlike real foods, additives are hard to digest. They consequently linger in your digestive tract for longer than food is supposed to, providing ample opportunity for your gut bacteria to feast upon them. As these bacteria eat, they produce gas, which leads to bloating and discomfort. The presence of excessive gas can also hinder the movement of food through the colon, resulting in constipation.

Eventually, eating lots of food additives (by virtue of drinking a daily protein shake for example) can disrupt regulatory pathways within your gut. This can contribute to the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other systemic inflammatory disorders, including COPD.

vegan vanilla protein powder serving suggestion
vanilla protein powder lifestyle image 1

One additive that should be avoided in particular is artificial sweeteners. Over time, the regular consumption of artificial sweeteners can have a significant impact on the composition of your gut microbiota. This can trigger persistent and severe gastrointestinal issues, while also causing widespread inflammation and long-term damage to the delicate balance of the gut microbiome.

Certain sweeteners, such as sugar alcohols like xylitol, are particularly difficult for the digestive system to absorb. Consequently, they feed the bacteria in your gut, and draw water into the intestines, which can lead to diarrhea. Now, you may finally have something to blame for those post-protein shake trips to the bathroom!

Here is a list of the most common food additives in protein powder:

acacia gum, acesulfame potassium, artificial flavors, aspartame, carrageenan, cellulose gum, dextrin, dextrose, erythritol, gellan gum, guar gum, gum arabic, inulin, locust bean gum, “natural” flavors, maltodextrin, rice syrup solids, soy lecithin, silica, sucralose, sunflower lecithin, xanthan gum, xylitol

the alternative:

Protein Matrix Comprised of (Whey Protein Concentrate,  Whey Protein Isolate, Calcium Caseinate, Micellar Casein, Milk Protein Isolate, Egg Albumen, Glutamine Peptides), Polydextrose, Sunflower Creamer (Sunflower Oil, Corn Syrup Solids,  Sodium Caseinate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Dipotassium Phosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin, Tocopherols), Natural and Artificial Flavor, MCT Powder (Medium Chain Triglycerides, Nonfat Dry Milk, Disodium Phosphate, Silicon Dioxide), Lecithin, Cellulose Gum, Salt, Yellow 5, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Papain, Bromelain.

*This is the actual ingredient list of one of the best-selling protein powders in the United States.

drink wholesome is dairy-free.

Another reason why we make the best protein powder for COPD patients is that we do not use dairy-based proteins. On the contrary, many protein powders utilize use and casein proteins, which are byproducts of cheese and yogurt manufacturing. Whey and casein have gained notoriety for causing digestive issues, particularly among individuals with lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

People with lactose intolerance and IBS struggle to fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy products. As previously mentioned, when undigested food sits in your gut, it feeds your hungry gut bacteria. Subsequently, these bacteria produce gas, resulting in uncomfortable side effects.

drink wholesome is made with real foods.

A final reason why we make the best protein powder for COPD patients is our use of real food protein sources, not protein concentrates and isolates. Concentrates and isolates, discreetly labeled as “pea protein” or “whey protein,” rather than as “peas” or “whey,” are stripped-down versions of real foods. They contain protein and virtually nothing else.

Producing protein concentrates and isolates involves extensive mechanical and chemical manipulation. In some cases, manufacturers resort to chemical solvents like hexane to extract the protein from its natural source. The final product, as you might imagine, looks nothing like real food.

Your digestive system has evolved to handle real foods, not artificially engineered imitations. Putting anything other than real food in your gut can lead to adverse side effects. Although the long-term effects of consuming processed protein isolates are not yet fully understood, emerging research suggests that they can disrupt the delicate balance of your gut microbiota, potentially causing irreparable harm to your gut microbiome.

Beyond food digestion, your gut performs a multitude of functions. It serves as a protective barrier against pathogens, contributes to the education of your immune system, and significantly influences various physiological processes. Consequently, an imbalanced gut microbiome has been associated with the development of numerous chronic diseases. As a precautionary measure, it is advisable to steer clear of protein powders that contain protein concentrates and isolates.

vegan chocolate protein powder lifestyle image 1
chocolate protein powder 14 servings serving suggestion

We take great pride in making protein powder for COPD patients with simple ingredients like egg whites and almonds, not protein concentrates or isolates. The processing involved in creating our protein powder is minimal: the egg whites are pasteurized and dried, while the almonds are roasted, pressed to reduce oil content, and finely ground. These real foods are easily digestible and gut-friendly alternatives to protein concentrates and isolates.

Real foods contain natural enzymes and digestive aids that assist in the breakdown of nutrients, enabling the body to absorb them more efficiently. In contrast, protein isolates and concentrates lack these digestive aids, making them more challenging for the body to digest and utilize. Moreover, minimally-processed plant-based foods like almonds offer the added advantage of being rich in fiber, which supports healthy digestion and regular bowel movements.

For individuals who do not have specific sensitivities or allergies to eggs, egg white protein proves to be an excellent choice for promoting gut health. Egg whites are low in fiber, low in FODMAPs, naturally alkaline, and have the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) among all whole foods. Our satisfied customers have reported a reduction in digestive issues when consuming egg white protein powder compared to other protein sources.

For those who cannot consume eggs, our vegan almond protein powder serves as an appealing alternative. Almonds have been thoughtfully selected as the plant-based protein source due to their remarkable gut-friendly properties. Research indicates that almonds exhibit prebiotic characteristics, enhancing the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome, thereby contributing to overall improved gut health.

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easy to digest

“My dietician recommend this, and it is the best non-dairy protein ever!!! The flavor is so good and it is easy to digest. I’ve never had a protein shake like it.” – Britta

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drink wholesome is the best protein powder for COPD patients.

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This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. drink wholesome is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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