While the world is fighting a global pandemic, and it proves to be a testing time for our immune system to fight the virus and its different variants. Thus, a nutritious diet forms the foundation for anyone who has caught the COVID-19 infection or is suffering from viral fever, common cold, or flu, or for general immunity building.
What does a COVID-19 recovery diet comprise?
It is important to realize that after catching the virus, apart from medications and quarantine, your eating and drinking habits will impact your immune system. The World Health Organization (WHO), the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), and the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) have enlisted several dietary recommendations through the months of the pandemic. Thus, on the basis of these common guidelines, COVID-19 patients must classify their diet into different nutrition categories.
1. Calories: Your diet should include rice, potatoes, bread, pasta, whole grains, and cereals to provide calorie-dense foods to bring back the energy levels that have been drained due to the virus. However, it is important to avoid junk foods that constitute empty calories.
2. Protein: Proteins, which are known body-building blocks of life are an important part of your diet to restore your immunity and energy. In order to receive, 75-100g of this nutrient every day, you should incorporate as many whole grains, lentils, legumes, dairy products, soy products, nuts, and seeds as you can in your diet. As a non-vegeterian, you can add items like chicken, eggs, and fish to your plate.
3. Fruits and vegetables: Fresh fruits and vegetables replenish your body with plenty of dietary fibre, folate, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Thus, taking 5-7 portions a day of fruits like apples, bananas, peaches, plums, kiwis, mangoes, oranges, and vegetables like cabbage, cauliflowers, pumpkins, brinjals, carrots, and all green leafy vegetables can make a huge difference.
4. Immune-boosters: Backed with phytochemicals and bioactive compounds, fruits, vegetables, herbs and some spices provide immense immune-boosting qualities. Add these to your diet and drink immune-boosting herbal drinks like kadha, turmeric milk, green tea, herbal tea, etc. Further nuts and seeds form a food source of minerals to add to your immunity levels and body energy.
5. Fluids: With infections causing massive dehydration, your recovery plan must give fluids a top priority. Drink 8-10 glasses of water every day, and make broths, soups, and other drinks a part of your daily diet. Further, avoid tea and coffee or any form of caffeine that can cause further dehydration.
Recovering your sense of taste and smell
A COVID-19 infection can cause the loss of your taste and smell sense. Here is what you can try to regain it back:
1. Your food can experiment with herbs, spices, seasoning, chutneys, pickles, and pepper while cooking and eating the meal.
2. Try eating cold or lukewarm food, if you are struggling with the strong taste of hot foods.
3. If you stop eating a particular food, trying adding it to your diet regularly as tastes continue to change.
Additional things to remember
While you have decided what to include in your diet, these essential foods and drinks can be made more effective if you follow these tips:
- Freshly produced food like fruits, vegetables, and animal products should be made a priority over pre-packaged ones.
- Simple and freshly cooked meals at home add greater value than relying on outside foods.
- Hygiene practices must be compulsorily followed while preparing as well as eating food. Thus, washing your hands and basic sanitization will help keep things more clean.
- A COVID recovering patient might find it difficult to consume large portions of food in the initial stages. Hence, stick to smaller and more frequent meals.
- If you are experiencing difficulties in swallowing during the recovery period, experiment with soft, mashed or liquids to begin with.
- Lastly, your body cannot be restored to normalcy if your diet is not supplemented with adequate sleep and exercise. Hence, while recovering it is important to get enough rest and follow smaller physical activities to get back in shape.