Updated: Jun 9
Here are some of the key factors to keep in mind while planning and managing your diet during COVID-19 infection, to help boost your overall recovery process.
When ill, one's body undergoes a taxing time, as it is depleted of nutrition and energy in its battle against the infection. Not only is immunity compromised but overall health deteriorates as the body tries to overcome the disease and recuperate. The body's response in the case where one has tested positive for the coronavirus is similar, with the infection affecting different people with different levels of severity.
As the second wave of COVID-19 infections continues to sweep through the country, it has impacted thousands of people to date. With symptoms ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to severe cases affecting the lungs, respiratory system, heart, and even the brain, the short- to long-term impact of the virus on one's body are pronounced. From debilitating weakness to the loss of smell and taste, the infection often leads to the loss of overall appetite. All of this, combined with multiple lockdowns imposed by the government to curb the spread of the infection and suggestions of home quarantine in case of mild to moderate COVID positive cases for otherwise healthy individuals might result in the alteration of normal food-related practices. With access to markets is limited, the accessibility to fresh produce too might be impacted leading to the potential of consuming more highly processed foods that are high in sugar, fats and salt.
At times like this, when one's immune system needs to be stronger than ever, good nutrition is a must. Not only one must continue to be mindful of what they consume but planning a healthy and wholesome diet that meets the daily nutrition requirements of the body is absolutely essential. A balanced diet along with basic exercises to aid deep breathing and relaxation of both, body and mind, goes a long way in aiding the body's fight against the COVID-19 infection and getting you back up on your feet.
POWER OF PROTEIN
Known as the building blocks of the body, proteins help build muscles and tissue, repair cells and boost immunity. Proteins are essential to overcome the wear and tear of your body's cells, which is especially accelerated when COVID positive, and it is critical to include adequate sources of protein in one's daily diet during the recovery and post-recovery phase. In addition, proteins replenish energy, making them the perfect nutrients to overcome weakness, while improving gut health and overall digestion. Therefore, meeting one's daily protein requirement is of the essence when affected by COVID-19. A daily protein intake of 1 g per kg body weight throughout the day on a regular basis can play a strong role in recovery.
Be it warm lentil or chicken soup to soothe a sore throat; milk and milk products such as cheese, paneer, and yogurt to whip up healthy salads and comfort curries; soybean products such as tofu and soy chunks to recreate flavoursome Asian stir-fries to satiate the tastebuds; baked fish casseroles such as salmon and mashed potatoes on the side for a balanced helping of proteins. Soybeans are also rich in vitamin C, folate as well as omega-3 fatty acids that help build and maintain a healthy body. You can make keema with soy granules or bake with a healthy twist of soy flour and soy milk, the options, are plenty.
CALORIES ARE CRUCIAL
While most of us count our daily intake of calories during other times, for those suffering or recovering from COVID-19, the absence of calories in one's diet could actually cause more harm than good when your body is in dire need of energy. Important for the smooth functioning of the heart and lungs, the inclusion of calorie-dense foods in your diet is critical. Ensure that the calories being consumed are healthy be it whole grains such as wheat, maize and rice, potatoes, cereals, bread, and pasta add a daily dose of calories to your meals to recover faster. Including nuts and dry fruits such as almonds, walnuts, dates and more as mid-meal snacks when one's appetite is waning can be beneficial. Also, a lot of these foods contain proteins in varying amounts; therefore they contribute to one's overall protein requirements.
VITAMINS ARE VITAL
Along with a protein-rich diet, it is imperative to intake an adequate amount of Vitamin C during the course of recovery. It is key to the recovery process as it contains anti-oxidants and boosts overall immunity. With COVID-19 known to affect one's respiratory system adversely, a daily shot of Vitamins C is crucial. Fresh fruits such as oranges, muskmelon, mango, pineapple, or even guavas, avocados, kiwis and grapefruit, which are also rich in protein are ideal sources of Vitamin C. Toss them into a healthy smoothie made of regular milk, soy or almond milk or create a rainbow-hued fruit salad make sure you get your double dose of Vitamin C and protein.
SOY FOR THE IMMUNITY
With an adequate intake of protein to keep our immunity in order during COVID, it is equally important to consume a sufficient amount of fiber, and soy is one of those ingredients that can take care of both protein and fiber at the same time. Recently, The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India detailed the importance of adding soy foods to our diet. Soy foods are made from soybeans, a wholesome source of high-quality protein, making them a perfect option for those who follow a strict vegetarian diet.
In addition to all of the above, ensure that you remain hydrated throughout the day. Drink plenty of water as it contains zero calories and has proteins and Vitamin C it is important that your body receives enough and more hydration. To further maintain a healthy diet, limit your sugar and salt intake and replace saturated fats such as butter and ghee with healthier and unsaturated fats such as olive, soy, or sunflower oil while cooking as recommended by the Government of India.
Exercise routinely, be it basic breathing exercises or meditation; follow all recommended medications; and eat healthy home-cooked meals to not only try to beat the COVID-19 infection but bounce back on your feet faster, not too worse from the wear. Stay safe, take all necessary precautions and be healthy at home.