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Are you Covid positive? A nutritionist shares diet tips to help you recover

Updated on:24 May 2021, 11:40am IST
Fighting covid-19 is important, but the recovery stage is equally significant. Here’s all that you need to know to fast-track the process through optimal nutrition.
Parul Malhotra Bahl
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Pay attention to post-covid recovery. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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The covid-19 pandemic has impacted billions across the globe. Along with prevention and vaccination, it’s necessary to follow healthy dietary habits not only for better protection, but to also fight and recover from this infection. 

Optimal nutrition is critical for the immune system, and therefore the only sustainable way to survive and revive in the current situation. A proper diet can ensure the body is in a proper condition to defeat the virus. 

It’s essential to follow these diet measures, not just to fight the infection but to recover strongly.

1. Have simple home-cooked nourishing meals

A nourishing meal includes a combination of carbs, protein and vegetables, with a little healthy fat. It can be as simple as a khichdi (rice/dalia with dal and vegetables with one teaspoon of ghee). If for any reason cooking at home is not possible, do not hesitate to ask help from family members or neighbours.

2. Eat small and frequent meals.

Small meals will ensure your stomach is able to easily digest whatever you are consuming.

3. Have protein-rich meals

During infection, your body ends up losing a lot of muscle mass, which can cause extreme fatigue, weakness and even cramps. In order to avoid this, make sure you consume at least one gram/kilogram body weight protein in your daily diet. From the following protein rich sources, add at least one source in each meal (main as well as small) to your diet.

  • Eggs
  • Milk 
  • Curd 
  • Paneer
  • Soya and its products
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Pulses and legumes
Protein is an essential need of your body. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
4. Add natural pre and probiotics

To support a healthy gut, add natural prebiotics (food for good bacteria) in the form of fibre-rich fruits, vegetables,  and whole grains. Natural probiotics (good bacteria) can be added by consuming homemade curd, overnight soaked cooked rice (fermented), and more. A healthy gut ensures an adequate synthesis of vitamin B12, which plays an important role in the production of RBCs (red blood cells), which helps in the transportation of oxygen to all the vital organs. 

5. Add immunity-boosting nutrients

During infection, the body’s immunity drops. In order to strengthen the immunity and help your body fight the infection properly, make sure you add the following four nutrient-rich foods to your daily diet.

  • Vitamin C – A potent antioxidant, vitamin C rich-foods include lemons, tomatoes, amla, citrus fruits like mosambi, pineapple, kiwi, and orange etc. 
  • Vitamin D – The sunshine vitamin has shown an important role in influencing both innate and adaptive immunity. Vitamin D is mainly synthesised by our body, when exposed to sunlight between 9 am to 2 pm. Also, make sure to add food sources of vitamin D to your diet. These include eggs, mushrooms, milk and soya. If you are deficient in vitamin D, you can use supplements as well! 
  • Zinc – This is a mineral that helps the body fight infection. People who experienced a loss of taste and smell during covid were largely found to be deficient in zinc. Thus add zinc-rich foods to your daily diet — these include chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, and beans etc.
  • Curcumin – It is an anti-inflammatory compound that is naturally found in turmeric. Add one-fourth teaspoon raw turmeric in a cup of warm milk with a pinch of black pepper, and have it once a day. To get a sufficient dose of curcumin, have its supplements. 

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6. Add fresh fruits and raw vegetables

Make sure to add a minimum 5-6 servings of fresh watery fruits (watermelon, muskmelon, cantaloupe etc) and raw vegetables, especially as mid-day snacks. They are a source of natural antioxidants, which will help you fight both infection as well as inflammation in the body.

7. Hydration

Water enables the transportation of nutrients to all body cells, thereby helping in the maintenance of body temperature. It also helps to remove toxins from the body. Thus, it is extremely important to keep up your hydration levels by:

  • Drinking three litres of water per day
  • In addition, you could also have healthy beverages like coconut water, fresh vegetable juice, kadha, buttermilk, vegetable or dal soups etc.

8. Avoid mucus-producing foods like curd, milk, rice, and potato, if you have cough and congestion. Add the following two herbal remedies to arrest sore throat and congestion: 

  • Honey and ginger concoction: One part fresh ginger juice mixed with two parts raw organic honey to help soothe a sore throat. Have a minimum of one teaspoon, twice a day.
  • Kada: Boil two cups of water with three to four fresh tulsi leaves, three to four whole black pepper, one small stick cinnamon, one green cardamom, one-inch fresh ginger, and one inch raw turmeric for eight to 10 minutes. Squeeze juice of half a lemon on top and have a cup of this kadha, maximum twice a day, to help relieve cough and congestion. Do not overdo the herbs, as they can even cause gastric issues.
9. Avoid inflammatory foods

Foods which are sugary, packaged, processed, preserved, oily and fattening are highly inflammatory in the body. Such foods need to be strictly avoided both during infection as well as recovery to make sure the process of recovery is faster.

These are general tips for home quarantined patients without medical conditions. People with existing comorbidities like diabetes and heart conditions must reach out to their nutritionist to get a diet plan, which is specifically made keeping in mind their medical conditions and symptoms.

Parul Malhotra Bahl Parul Malhotra Bahl

Parul Malhotra Bahl is a clinical nutritionist and a certified diabetes educator with an experience of over 12 years in the health industry. She did her Post Graduate DDPHN from Delhi University followed by MSc. Nutrition from Bristol University, U.K. She has worked with multiple renowned hospitals like Medanta The Medicity, Sir Ganga Ram hospital, and Sitaram Bhartia Institute. Currently she is running her own practice under the name of Diet Expression (www.dietexpression.com)