Tuberculosis is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis that most often affect the lungs and despite the availability of an antibiotic regimen, TB has been an India-specific burden, given to our huge below-the-poverty-line population, which raises an increasing need to find adjuvant therapies and herbal remedies that can aid patient recovery and contain the toxic effects of chemical-based drugs. According to Dr R Lakshmi Priya, Consultant Microbiologist at Metropolis Healthcare Ltd., a person with tuberculosis may have a poor appetite due to disease itself and side effects of the medications.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, she advised, “They should have a healthy balanced diet by having the right amount of macro and micronutrients. Foods rich in protein like meat, milk, and milk products, fish, and eggs are recommended. Protein-rich drinks are advised for patients with low appetite. For vegetarians, cereals and pulses will provide the required nutrients. Groundnuts are equivalent in nutritional terms to more expensive nuts like almond and cashew. It is advised to restrict alcohol, carbonated drinks, tobacco, excess tea and coffee.”
As diet is concerned among TB patients, Dr Ankit Singhal, Pulmonologist at New Delhi’s Sri Balaji Action Medical Hospital, added some more health tips that include:
1. Eat food rich in Vitamin B and Iron such as whole grain dark leafy greens such as spinach. Eat Antioxidants rich fruits (Blue-berries) and vegetables (tomato, bell pepper). Avoid fried foods such as white breads, parathas and sugar. Eat fewer red meats and more lean meats, soya beans and cold water fish for protein.
2. Use healthy cooking oil such as olive oil. Avoid eating baked foods such as cookies, donuts, French fries as it contains trans-fat. Avoid coffee and other stimulants like alcohol and tobacco. You can have medicine containing mixtures of multivitamins including B-complex, Vitamin-C and Vitamin-D.
3. Alternative therapies available eating herbs – aged garlic, Astragalus Rhodiola. Homeopathy – Arsenicum pithum for cough and chest pain and calcarea carbonica for chills, perspiration drowsiness and swollen lymph nodes. Acupuncture also helps in boosting the immune system.
Dr Babina NM, Chief Medical Officer at Jindal Naturecure Institute (Naturopathy for TB), asserted, “Naturopathy believes that a person is born healthy and strong and that they can stay that way by living in accordance with the laws of nature. A proper diet, fresh air, exercise, sunshine, meditation and the right mental attitude, all play their part in keeping the body and mind fit.” She suggested:
1. Foods rich in zinc: Sunflower seeds, nuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds are great sources of zinc. They provide the body with large amounts of nutrients to fight against diseases like TB.
2. Garlic: Garlic contains a compound known as Allicin, which is active against the bacteria that cause TB. Studies have proven that garlic extract can help contain multi-drug resistant TB, which is an important concern in developing countries.
3. Black pepper: Crushed black pepper can help in treatment of TB. Its anti-inflammatory properties clear the lungs and reduce discomfort and pain.
4. Mint: Mint assists in clearing the respiratory tract, ensuring the free passage of air. It is also rich in antioxidants and immunity-boosting components that protect the body from the risk of infections.”
Given that a majority of TB patients experience loss in appetite, Dr Deepak Mittal, Founder of Divine Soul Yoga, recommended, “It is important for such patients to indulge in protein-rich foods like paneer, soya chunks and tofu. On top of that, the body can easily absorb such foods and give a person the required energy. Vitamins including A, C, E and D are crucial for a healthy immune system. Vitamins A, C and E are antioxidants that can destroy free radicals and protect the body from chronic diseases.”
He added, “Also, vitamin D plays an important role in regulating the immune system and TB patients who are unable to get ample vitamins from a healthy diet may benefit substantially from taking a multivitamin supplement. Foods rich in vitamins include carrot, orange, papaya, guava, amla, soy, sweet lime, nuts and mushroom. Vitamin D helps TB patients build a stronger immune system to respond effectively against anti-TB drugs.”
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