India accounts for more than 30% of TB deaths globally with an Indian dying from TB every five minutes. Even short of the worst case scenario, TB is a tough disease to live with and can drastically reduce your quality of life. But did you know that TB can affect your nutritional status? In fact, malnutrition due to lack of nutritious food in the diet worsens the fatality risk of Tuberculosis.
How does TB impact nutrition?
TB causes pathophysiological changes that can lead to undernourishment. As a TB patient, you start to lose your appetite, because TB hinders your body’s ability to synthesise protein. This leads to loss of muscle, fat, and ultimately weight, accompanied by nutrient deficiencies.
Table Nutrient composition of TB patient’s healthy diet
Tips on a healthy and helpful diet for a TB patient
A diet rich in macro- and micronutrients is essential for patients to overcome the disease3.
Protein-rich foods such as soy or tofu, dairy, eggs, and lean meat contain essential amino acids that help bolster your immune system to fight the TB bacteria. These food groups help in building muscles and fighting fatigue. Additionally, they provide the stamina to go about one’s daily activities during treatment and recovery.
Tips to increase the protein content of your dish:
- Mix soya nuggets or tofu when you prepare rice or lentil (daal).
- Cubes of paneer added to a regular khichdi or grain porridge bowl.
- Fruit milkshake can be a delicious and nutritious energy booster with which to begin your day.
Calorie-dense and carbohydrate-rich whole grains, cereals, and millets can fuel your body with the energy to fight infection-causing bacteria .
Yummy yet healthy meal ideas:
- A nutritious bowl of khichdi prepared with rice, lentils, and seasonal vegetables.
- A wholesome porridge of rice, ragi, lentils, or semolina balls (sooji ladoos).
Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E 5 help replenish the vitamin depletion caused by the disease and its treatment. Antioxidants in foods help eliminate toxins from the body to give you much-needed strength. These powerful antioxidants also help counter the ill-effects of high doses of medication and disease-causing free radicals.
Easy ways to have fruity meals!
- A bowl of mixed fruits, such as mango, papaya, apricot, apple, banana, pomegranate, orange, and guava. Or carrot, sweet potato, and pumpkin soup.
- Generous use of fresh tomatoes as an ingredient in every meal preparation and cooking.
- A well-cooked, lightly seasoned fillet of fish or chicken breast with sautéed or steamed broccoli.
Foods supplementing the body with minerals such as zinc, selenium, and iron are also important for the nutritional profile of TB patients.
Cereal-bean porridge with an assortment of seeds – sunflower, chia, pumpkin, and flaxseed.
A handful of nuts as a snack in between meals.
As a TB patient, you must avoid caffeine, refined sugar and flour, sodium, and bottled sauces. Foods containing saturated and trans fats worsen the TB symptoms of diarrhoea and abdominal cramping and fatigue. Additionally, alcohol and tobacco are a definite no-no during the disease treatment and cure phase.
Undernourishment can hamper treatment outcomes and increase the risks of relapse. Quality nutrition is therefore crucial to support the immune system and ensure the proper repair and restoration of cells and tissues. So, following the hacks above to build a healthy diet if you or any of your loved ones are suffering from TB.