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How to maintain a healthy diet when you come down with COVID-19

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How to maintain a healthy diet when you come down to COVID-19

As the world witnesses alarming spikes in the covid-19 cases,  it is important to understand that over 80% of these cases  are not severe and can be treated at home.  Besides self-quarantining, sleeping well, and exercising, what we consume throughout the day can also impact our immune system. Healthy eating increases our chances of staying well and even helps minimize symptoms of covid at home.

This article provides a complete guide on diet tips for covid-19 patients along with quick recipes  that are easy to cook and highly nutritious.

Diet Tips for COVID-19 Positive Patients

How to maintain healthy diet when you come down with Covid-19

World Health Organisation along with other national and international health agencies have prescribed various Diet related guidelines. The key takeaways from which are as follows:

  1. Prioritize fresh products

Priority must be given to Fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. Consuming them raw or home-cooked is the best option. Avoid packaged and processed food at all costs.

  1. Be aware of portion sizes 

It is easy to go on a food eating spree while you  are quarantined at home. Lack of self control   fuelled by emotional stress, makes you an easy target for overheating.  It’s important to eat small meals regularly to ensure that your damaged digestive system is not burdened.

  1. Follow safe food handling practices 

Follow good food hygiene practices to avoid food contamination and foodborne diseases while preparing food by yourself like keeping hands, kitchen, and utensils clean, cooking the food thoroughly, and using safe water and raw material.

  1. Limit your salt and sugar intake

Only a 5g intake of salt is recommended by the WHO. Hence, prioritize foods with reduced or no added salt. Eating extra salt should abound and instead fresh or dried herbs and spices can be used for flavors. Similarly, sugar-sweetened soft drinks, shakes and juices must be avoided. Jaggery may be used in place of sugar.

  1. Consume enough fiber and other important nutrients

Food rich in fibers offers a prolonged feeling of fullness and helps to prevent overeating and provide energy to the body, which is very necessary for a COVID-19 positive person. Essential nutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Vitamin B, Protein, Zinc etc. are a must.

  1. Stay hydrated

Your body uses a lot of energy to fight against the virus which may result in dehydration. Increase water intake to ensure good hydration without added sugar. Try not to drink a lot of coffee, solid tea, and particularly stimulated soda pops and caffeinated drinks lead to parchedness and can adversely affect your sleeping patterns.

  1. Avoid alcohol

Consumption of alcohol weakens the immune system and impacts the ability to fight with infectious diseases. High alcohol consumption may lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a severe covid-19 complication.

Nutrient chart for COVID 19 Positive Patients

Patients suffering from Covid-19 must consume a wholesome diet that covers a variety of essential nutrients. A list of nutrients along with benefits and food sources is captured below:

Nutrient chart for Covid 19 Positive Patients

# Essential nutrient Benefits Food sources
1 Vitamin C Formation of antibodies and speeds up the entire recovery process.Boost your immune system and give you the needed energy. Gooseberry, Oranges, Kiwis, strawberries, and other citrus foods
2 Vitamin E Antioxidant and gives your body the energy required to fight the virus and enhance the immune system. Dry fruits like almonds, avocados,
3 Protein Protect your body against pathogens Eggs are a rich source of protein and contain many nutrients. They are a rich source of amino acids.
4 Vitamin B (Vitamin B6, B9, and B12) Contribute to the body’s first response and help in recognizing pathogens.Influence production and activity of “natural killer” cells which work by causing infected cells to “implode”. B6 – Green leafy vegetables Cereals, legumes, fruits, nuts, fish, chicken, and meat.B9 – Green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds B12 – Animal products, including eggs, meat, and dairy, and also in fortified soy milk.
5 Iron Increases the number of free radicals and regulates enzyme reactions essential for immune cells to recognize and target pathogens Meat, chicken, and fish are a good source of iron
6 Zinc Boosts immune system and helps body to fight the toxins in body Beans, meat, and poultry are a good source of zinc

Healthy Recipes for COVID-19 Patients

Food truly is medicine, so we have listed some easy to prepare home recipes to help Covid-19 patients fight the disease.

Healthy Recipes for COVID-19 Patients

  1. Warm lemon water with haldi, cinnamon and chia seeds

Haldi and cinnamon are antiviral, while lemon juice helps boost immunity. Hence, a combination of all these ingredients could prove beneficial for the body and help the person fight against the COVID-19.  This drink may be avoided by people suffering with sore throat

Recipe: Take a glass and mix lemon juice, a pinch of turmeric (Haldi), chia seeds, and a little amount of cinnamon and warm water. This hydrating drink provides energy to your body and should be consumed early in the morning.

  1. Ginger and Honey

A small amount of honey mixed with ginger juice can be taken at any time of the day. Ginger and honey have antiviral properties, have antioxidants, and are anti-inflammatory. High inflammation levels from pre-existing chronic diseases can further deteriorate a person’s health in Covid. Hence, Covid patients should take a little amount of both the ingredients to help fight prolonged inflammation. 

  1. Herbal tea

Herbal tea is a very healthy drink that can substitute coffee and normal tea as it is rich in spearmint that smoothens the digestive system and acts as an appetite suppressant. Herbal tea is rich in antioxidants and vitamins found to be great for helping fight disease and infections, protect against oxidative stress, and lower the risk of coronavirus by providing immunity to the body. It also contains many minerals and vitamins which help in relaxing, recovering, and refreshing your mind. 

Blend for four cups

  • Ginger
  • Two or three cardamom
  • Cinnamon powder
  • One strand of lemon grass
  • 4-5 mint leaves or tulsi leaves (As per taste)

  1. Dalia or Porridge

Dalia is rich in fibers, magnesium, and minerals. Dalia is known to increase the metabolism rate and keeps the body weight under control. Dalia is a great healer for diabetic patients as it contains a low glycemic index and complex carbohydrates which ensures a slow and steady release of glucose into the blood. Dalia balances blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. 

Recipe

  • Chop the vegetables to be added to Dalia.
  • Heat 1-1½  tablespoon of mustard oil or ghee in a pressure cooker. Keep flame to medium-low and add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds  once the oil is hot and let them crackle.
  • Then add 2 finely chopped medium-sized onions.
  • Saute till the onions start to become reddish.
  • Then add a little finely chopped ginger and 1 to 2 finely chopped green chilies and saute on low flame
  • Add 1 finely chopped tomato and saute for 2 to 3 minutes
  • Now add ½ cup of chopped carrots and ½ cup of green peas or beans.
  • Saute for 1½  to 2 minutes on medium-low flame. Keep stirring at intervals.
  • In the meantime, rinse 1 cup dalia in water. Drain the water and keep the dalia aside.
  • Add the rinsed dalia to the veggies.
  • Saute for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add 3-4 cups of water and salt as required and stir well.
  • On medium flame, pressure cook for 7- 8 whistles. 
  • Once done, garnish the dalia with coriander leaves and serve dalia hot or warm.

  1. Poha

Poha is a good source of carbohydrates and also rich in iron. Poha consists of 76.9 percent of carbohydrates which is sufficient to provide energy to the body to carry out its daily functions. Poha provides iron to the body which helps in building up the immune system of the body to fight against pathogens. Poha can be made easily at home without much effort and is a good meal for sick people. You can consume it during breakfast or as an evening snack as well.

Recipe

  • Rinse one and a half (1½) cups thick poha (flattened rice) in water. Wait till they become soft. Use a strainer or colander to rinse out water.
  • It is important not to rinse the Poha too much. With excess water they can break and become mushy.
  • Sprinkle some splashes of water on Poha flakes if they don’t become soft  even after rinsing 
  • Next step is to add 1 teaspoon sugar (or as required), salt as per taste, and ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder to the poha and gently mix with a spoon or hands.
  • Dry roast 2 to 2.5 tablespoons peanuts in a pan until they become crunchy and brownish
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil(preferably mustard oil) in the same pan. First, crackle the mustard seeds.
  • Then add ½ cup finely chopped onions. Sauté them until they become translucent and soften.
  • Add 8 to 10 curry leaves and 2 chopped green chilies. Sauté for a few seconds.
  • Add the roasted peanuts and stir.
  • Add poha and mix gently.
  • Cover and steam for about 2 minutes on a low to medium flame.
  • Switch off the flame and let poha remain covered for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and sprinkle 1 lemon and 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves.
  • Mix gently and serve it hot.

  1. Sauteed Spinach

Spinach has an excellent amount of nitrates which produce nitric oxide. This nitric oxide has anti-inflammatory properties and stops the virus from spreading in the body. Spinach contains Vitamins A, B, C, and K, very few calories, calcium, and iron that helps to boost immunity in the body. It is rich in antioxidants and beta carotene, which increases the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. Sauteed spinach should be lightly cooked so that it does not lose its nutrients.

Recipe

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Use medium heat only.
  • Add the spinach to the skillet and cover. 
  • Cook for 5 minutes. Add some garlic and salt. 
  • After stirring cover again for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Remove from heat and serve it hot.

Conclusion

The food that you eat plays an important role in determining your immunity and overall well-being. A healthy and good diet can help to improve your immune system and reduce the symptoms of Covid19 at home. 

The above listed healthy meals and drinks can help you fight against the coronavirus naturally and provide many other benefits to the body. In case of pre-existing chronic diseases, food allergies, pregnancy, or breast-feeding mothers and any other special dietary needs due to age and other factors, do consult your dietitian  or doctor before following any diet. 

 

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