Tuberculosis and the Importance of Diet
Tuberculosis is a contagious infection usually caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) bacteria, and is one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide. Although the infection typically attacks the lungs, it can also spread to other parts of the body such as the spine and brain.
While the treatment of active tuberculosis can last very long and requires the daily intake of high-quality pharmaceutical products , getting the right nutrition can boost the recovery process and help your body fight off the infection.
A strong immune system helps the body to defend against the tough MTB bacteria. It has been seen that malnourished or underweight people have a weakened immune system, which makes them more prone to tuberculosis infection while also being at a higher risk of suffering from reinfection after treatment. It is a vicious cycle as poor nutrition can lead to the persistence of active tuberculosis infection, and the condition can further worsen malnutrition. Hence, it is important to eat a nutritious diet in order to keep the body strong enough to fight off the infection.
What to Eat?
The intake of a variety of healthy foods, containing all essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, is essential for the body to build the strength and stamina required to fight off active tuberculosis infection. Some of them include:
- Leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach as they have a high amount of B-vitamin and iron content which the body needs when fighting tuberculosis.
- Adequate intake of whole grains like whole wheat pastas, cereals, and breads.
- Brightly-colored vegetables which are rich in antioxidants like peppers, carrots, tomatoes, cherries, blueberries, squash, etc.
- Sufficient intake of unsaturated fats through vegetable oil rather than butter.
Besides eating healthy foods, it is important to visit a doctor to find out if you’re suffering from any nutritional deficiencies. You might also need to take a multivitamin daily as some studies suggest that the intake of high-calorie energy supplements can help underweight people gain weight, and also zinc, when combined with vitamin A or other micronutrients, may offer some nutritional benefits. However, never take any supplements unless advised by your doctor.
What Not to Eat?
Some of the foods you should avoid in order to treat your active tuberculosis effectively include:
- Stop tobacco consumption in all forms
- Reduce the intake of coffee and other caffeinated drinks
- Don’t consume alcohol as it may cause additional liver damage
- Reduce the intake of refined products such as white rice, white bread, and sugar
- Consume leaner proteins like tofu, poultry, fish, etc. and avoid high-fat, high-cholesterol red meat
The intake of nutritious foods will help you maintain a healthy weight and it will give your body enough strength to fight the tough MTB bacteria. It will also decrease the chances of a relapse of the infection.
However, it is important to take your TB medications regularly in order to get rid of the condition effectively. Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing any side-effects as a result of consuming the medications.