Dietitians reveal foods you should eat and avoid, especially when you are sick with SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 or Coronavirus.
Your head is pounding, and your throat is sore. You’re exhausted and have a persistent cough. It’s possible that you won’t be able to smell or taste your food.
Yes, you are one among the millions of people in the United States who have been infected with Covid-19.
Ordering in, snacking while locked up in your room, or perhaps a stiff drink or two are all tempting options.
Do not rush into anything if you want to feel better and recover.
There are better food options, according to dietitians.
Three dietitians from National University Polyclinics (NUP), Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH), and Changi General Hospital (CGH) recommend eating a well-balanced diet.
Foods you should eat and avoid when down with Coronavirus
According to dietitian Bernice Tan: “We would still recommend that patients have a healthy balanced diet and encourage them to have meals which consist of whole grains, lean protein, vegetables and fruit, to boost energy and facilitate speedy recovery.
“However, they may not have much appetite due to the lack of energy and existing symptoms that can affect their usual food intake. The texture of food can be modified to help them eat better, especially if they still feel unwell.”
She claims that food can be cooked for longer periods of time to make it softer and easier to swallow. Rice porridge, soupy noodles, fish, stewed meat, tofu, eggs, and soft fruits like papaya, banana, and watermelon are just a few examples.
She also notes that some deep-fried and high-fat foods travel through the gastrointestinal tract too rapidly, causing diarrhoea. Alternatively, they could stay in the stomach longer, causing bloating.
Spicy food’s acidic mix can also induce a burning feeling in the throat and stomach.
Ultra-processed foods, such as chocolates, candies, ice cream, and chips, are likewise deficient in nutrients and should be avoided.
“Remember, the body needs nutrients to recover,” she adds.
According to CGH dietitian Tan Ying Xin, it is not uncommon for COVID patients recovering from the illness to have an impaired sense of taste and smell.
She adds: “This can affect their appetite as food may be perceived to be more bland than usual. Combined with the discomfort of a sore throat and/or a cough, a patient may end up passing over his or her healthy eating habits. “
To compensate for the absence of taste, some people may add more sauces or salt to their food. Excess salt intake, she says, can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of hypertension.
She emphasizes that when persons with Covid-19 stay at home to recover, they may be more likely to use food delivery services or eat more highly processed foods like fast noodles, canned cream soup, or long-life pastries.
“Doing so will increase the intake of salt and saturated fats,” she says.
Hydration is also vital to restore lost fluids, prevent dry throat, and avoid provoking a cough, according to Ms Chow Pek Yee, head of KTPH’s Department of Nutrition & Dietetics.
If water is too basic or dull on its own, she suggests adding lemon, berries, or mint leaves to flavor it.
Ms Tan of CGH points out that there has been a lot of buzz regarding drinking coconut water after getting vaccinated and recuperating from Covid-19.
“There is, however, no evidence that coconut water will cure one of Covid-19,” she says.
“Beverages such as coconut water and isotonic drinks contain electrolytes such as potassium and sodium, and may benefit someone who is experiencing a deficit from excessive fluid loss from diarrhoea.
“But bear in mind that they still contain carbohydrates, sometimes in the form of added sugar. Avoid consuming excessive amounts. Plain water is still the best form of hydration,” she recommends.
Additionally, the dietitians provided practical recommendations to people seeking to maintain a healthy diet while recuperating from the infection.
People who are having trouble eating their typical food servings, according to Ms Tan of NUP, can have nutritious snacks two to three hours after their main meals to ensure they are getting adequate nutrients.
A small tub of low-fat yogurt, a slice of wholemeal bread with soft margarine, jam with no added sugar, or low-fat cheese; a cup of warm low-fat milk or reduced-sugar, high-calcium soya milk; or a cup of warm low-fat milk or reduced-sugar, high-calcium soya milk
Ms. Tan of CGH also recommends choosing thinly sliced beef, which defrosts and cooks quickly. Citrus fruits are abundant in vitamin C and can be consumed whole or used to flavor water and salad dressing, according to her.
Cooking with milk, which can be substituted for water when cooking oats or used to soak oats overnight in the fridge for breakfast the next day, can also help to improve protein content in food.
She adds: “Now that people are spending longer periods at home, it is good to take this as an opportunity to prepare more wholesome meals or explore recipes they previously did not have the time to make.
“Plan ahead and take advantage of food delivery platforms to deliver fresh ingredients such as vegetables, meat and poultry too.”
In the long run, however, boosting the immune system to be Covid-19-free would require more than just eating well.
Ms Chow from KTPH says: “To ensure our immune system is healthy all year round, we need to ensure we eat well and have a balanced diet and adequate sleep, and manage stress.”
She and the other dietitians support idea of Half a plate of veggies, a quarter of a plate of protein-rich meals, and a quarter of a plate of nutritious grains.
She adds: “Eat at least two servings of fruit daily and keep well hydrated. At Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, our five pillars of health are: eat wisely, exercise regularly, be happy, stop smoking and practise good hygiene.”
Foods You Should Eat When Sick with COVID-19
Ms Tan Ying Xin, a dietitian at Changi General Hospital, suggests these foods to help Covid-19 patients recover:
1. Lean animal protein such as meat, poultry and seafood.
2. Eggs, which are a source of vitamin A and protein, and versatile.
3. Citrus fruit, which are high in vitamin C.
4. Unsweetened milk fortified with vitamin D.
5. Nuts and seeds, which are sources of vitamin E.
Foods You Should Avoid When Sick with COVID-19
Ms Bernice Tan, dietitian at National University Polyclinics, suggests avoiding the following:
1. Deep-fried and high-fat food such as fatty cuts of meat and butter
2. Processed meat
3. Ultra-processed foods
4. Spicy food such as mala dishes or dishes with chilli
5. Alcohol, as it irritates the stomach lining, causing indigestion and making patients feel more nauseated.
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