By Ms. Sherly Ganesh, Head of Nutrition and Dietetics, Columbia Asia Hospital Hebbal (A unit of Manipal Hospitals)
Covid 19 has a substantial impact on the immune system of a person. To maintain health, you need to provide required nutrition to the body. Eating right kind of food at the right time can help build strong immune system as well as give strength to people recovered from Covid.
The food you consume plays a major role in how fast you recover. Having the right knowledge about food on what helps and what harms leads to faster recovery.
As patients who have tested positive for covid 19 face symptoms like gastrointestinal problem, loss of smell, loss of taste, swallowing difficulties, the diet needs to be focused and well balanced. It is also crucial to understand the comorbidities of the patient like hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease and cardiac problem in order to choose the right type of diet. Your exercise routine and the food you eat determine your rate of recovery.
Listed below are the few suggestions for patients who have recovered from Covid 19
Keep your calorie intake in check – Say no to empty calories
In most cases, obese patients suffer from respiratory problems, weakened immune systems, and reduced lung volume. They are more vulnerable to develop pneumonia and cardiac issues. Hence, it is important to keep a check on your weight and calorie intake. However, additional amount of energy is required after recovery from Covid infection to cope up with the daily activities. This additional energy requirement is catered to with the intake of food like rice, potato, whole grain, cereals in your diet. It is best to avoid empty calories like junk food or sugary beverages.
A big yes to protein rich food
It is recommended that recovering patients should consume 1.2-1.3 g/kg of protein per day. Include whole grains, lentils, legumes, dairy products, soy products, nuts and seeds in your diet and for non-vegetarians, chicken, eggs and fish will be recommended.
Consume more fruits and vegetables:
Fresh fruits and vegetables are filled with dietary fibre, folate, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Include all of them in your diet for a better result.
Add immunity-boosters in your diet: Many fruits, vegetables and herbs have the immunity -boosting properties as they have phytochemicals and bioactive compounds.
Do not forget to hydrate yourself: Infections can dehydrate the body. Therefore, it is important to rehydrate when you are recovering from Covid. Drink 8-10 glasses of water every day. Consume broths, soups, and other juices as part of your daily diet.
Follow these tips when you are recovering from Covid:
- Always opt for fresh fruits and vegetables instead of frozen ones or the packed ones with conservatives.
- Make sure the food is freshly cooked and try to consume home cooked food as much as possible
- Ensure you follow the hygiene protocols. Wash vegetables and fruits before use and wash your hands before and after eating
- The loss of taste and smell may make you feel full very fast. Consume food in smaller quantity but make sure they are frequent meals
- Do not avoid eating food if you have sore throat or difficulty in swallowing. Consume soft and mashed food.
- Ensure proper sleep at night. Short exercise routines for smaller duration will also help.
It is not only the people who have recovered from Covid should be concerned about the kind of diet they have to follow. Even people who are having mild symptoms or asymptomatic and at home quarantine are also have to be careful about their diet for faster recovery. Listed below are the few tips which they can follow.
- Consume sufficient water. Staying hydrated is the best way to avoid any harmful effects of Covid-19.
- Protein consumption is necessary to take care of the damaged tissues and muscles. Besides, it also helps to recover from post-disease weakness.
- Micronutrients should also be consumed as it plays a key role to strengthen the immune system. Vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds are some of the major sources of micronutrients.
- Similar to proteins and nutrients, calories are also important for the body. Calories can generate energy, which helps our body to fight any disease.
- Select food which are easy to digest. It is important that you stick to home-cooked meals that are prepared in hygienic conditions.
- Limit your salt and sugar intake.
- Fibre rich food leads to healthy digestive system and offers a prolonged feeling of fullness which helps prevent overeating.
- Avoid alcohol intake. Alcohol is not a part of a healthy diet. It also weakens the immune system. It’s heavy use undermines your body’s ability to cope with infectious disease, including COVID-19.
Consuming nutritious food is a vital part of living healthy. The food we eat should be giving strength to our body. Also, after the illness it is mandatory to eat well to come out of it.