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Do's and don'ts of nutrition to help the body fight off Covid-19

Health & Science

Chicken soup, tea and lots of water are recommended for Covid-19 patients, according to nutrition guidelines by the Ministry of Health.

The guidelines, which cover mild symptoms of Covid-19 such as fever to severe ones like kidney failure, recommend increased consumption of fruits and vegetables to improve antioxidant levels in the body.

The ministry also recommends herbs, like oregano, sage and cinnamon, if one has mild symptoms like fever, cough, headache and sore throat.

“Fever increases the need for more calories. Increase the amount of nutritious food by increasing the number of times you eat. The food should include energy-rich foods, meat, milk, legumes and pulses, fruits and vegetables,” reads the guidelines.

Coughs, the guideline says, can be relieved by use of honey, pineapple and chicken soup, gargling and hand washing.

“Sore throat can be relieved by taking tea, honey, ginger, turmeric, sage,” the guidelines show, adding that patients should have enough sleep, reduce stress, exercise, avoid intake of alcohol and tobacco products.

“Limit intake of foods containing trans-fats and saturated fats e.g. fat and skin from meat, hydrogenated vegetable oils, shortening, fried foods, cookies, and pastries,” reads the guidelines. "Limit intake of sugar, sweets, cake, soft drinks and sugar sweetened beverages."

Alteration of the diet

As the disease progresses, the guidelines recommend alteration of the diet. For example, if one starts having difficulty breathing, avoid overfeeding.

“If need be, reduce the feeds to 50 per cent of required intake and increase the amount slowly as the patient stabilises,” it reads. Eggs are a good source of protein at this stage.

If one starts producing sputum, he or she should increase intake of warm drinks including clear broth soups, meaning soups without cream or dairy, and warm decaffeinated tea.

The ministry guidelines say some foods may cause increased mucus production if you are allergic or intolerant to them which include eggs, fish, milk, nuts, peanuts, shellfish, wheat and soy.

The guideline notes that patients with inadequate oxygen may complain of anorexia, early satiety, malaise, bloating, and constipation or diarrhea. 

Due to intubation, such patients usually require enteral tube feeding or parenteral feeding.

Those with sepsis, a life threatening condition as a result of the body fighting infection, should ensure adequate intake of nutrients through normal diet, parenteral or enteral nutrition depending on severity of illness.

“Critically ill patients who are injured, septic, or bedridden may not gain weight, lean body mass, or strength as expected until the source of hyper metabolism is treated or corrected and physical therapy or exercise is begun,” reads the guidelines.

Antioxidants as high dose monotherapy should not be administered without proven deficiency, the guidelines adds

“Infants born to mothers with suspected, probable, or confirmed Covid-19 should be fed according to standard infant feeding guidelines, while applying necessary precautions for Infection prevention and control,” the ministry guidelines add.

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