Corona virus infection or COVID is spreading like a wild fire and taking utmost precaution like wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing is very important. However, one must not forget that Nutrition plays a vital role in building immune system.
As most of you have already started Kashayams and Kadas to boost your immunity, one must understand that incase an individual is affected with this virus which produces and inflammatory condition in your body and has a lasting effect of 6-8 months affecting different organs especially lungs and liver, a nutrition care plan is must which is the only way to boost your immunity, fight off infection, produce antibodies and also relieve fatigue.
Wash your hands properly with soap and water. Ensure you wash every vegetable/fruit you consume preferably in brine/salt solution.
Keep a check on your sugars/BP if you’re a diabetic, hypertensive or a cardiac patient. In case you’re a renal patient or with multiple co morbidities make sure your lab values are well under control and you seek a professional dietician to plan your diet accordingly
Consume only freshly cooked meals at all times. Do not consume stored foods as they are precursors for further infection.
If a mother is lactating, continue to breastfeed. Yes, even if your infected with COVID, feed the expressed milk to the baby as breastmilk protects babies from infections and its necessary for their survival.
Keep food well covered at all times and consume within 2 hours post cooking.
Hydrate yourself well. Plain water is excellent but also replenish the energy losses through fresh juices, buttermilk, lime juice and soups. Avoid Caffeine and carbonated beverages.
For patients recently intubated and who have difficulty in swallowing, it is advisable to follow a dietician’s advice strictly to regain optimal nutritional status
Smoking directly damages your lungs and makes you prone to furthermore infections and alcohol consumption suppresses the immune system so, Smoking and alcohol consumption both should be avoided.
Limit your total salt intake to 5g/day (1tsp). Try to restrict pickles,papads, bakery items and fast foods. As these foods will weaken your immune system further.
DIETARY GUIDELINES: A well balanced diet can assist people post COVID to regain their optimal nutritional status and come back to normalcy soon. It is very crucial to meet the increased nutritional requirement of your body as it helps in replenishing your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing during this time. Few modifications in your daily routine which will help in early healthy recovery are:
CALORIES: - Adequate calories must be provided depending on the patient’s nutritional status. If a person is a diabetic, he/she should monitor the blood glucose and plan calories accordingly. For a normal individual, post COVID as the body is lethargic, small and frequent meals of high calorie is helpful. Snack options like chikkis, protein bars, high calorie fruits like banana or mangoes can help in giving the instant energy to the body.
PROTEIN: - Is is the most important nutrient to be taken care of post COVID. 1.2-1.5g/kg body weight is recommended. Protein not only helps in rejuvenating the body’s immune cells but also helps in production of antibodies and promotes faster healing. Vegetarians should consume 2-3 servings of dals, dairy products especially thick curd and paneer, legumes etc. per day. If you’re a non-vegetarian, consuming one whole egg a day is very helpful. Chicken or fish weekly thrice should also be taken. If you feel you are not getting adequate protein, invest in a commercially available protein supplement.
ANTIOXIDANTS: - Free radicals can only be fought off by antioxidants and natural sources which include Vitamin A and Vitamin C rich sources like citrus fruits, orange-yellow coloured fruits and vegetables, green leafy vegetables, egg, Milk and milk products etc. are a must in your everyday diet. Ensure you take at least one citrus fruit and one serving of vitamin A rich vegetable like a carrot, pumpkin or green leaf every day.
HEALTHY FATS: - Include healthy fats in your diet to add calories like butter, cream, ghee, avocado, fish, nuts and oilseeds. Fats will make your food denser and also are packed sources of energy.
A good, balanced and planned diet can help you strengthen your immune system again and get back to normalcy at the earliest. Choose your foods wisely and maintain a strict diet regimen. Have small and frequent meals at regular intervals rather than feasting on heavy meals. Your body is your strength; you need to take care of it.