Eat Right to Beat Tuberculosis

Written by Dr. Veena Madhankumar and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team

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Tuberculosis treatment requires you to take a combination of antibiotics daily for almost a year. As it is a bacterial infection, taking antibiotics is vital, but you can help your body fight off the infection by ensuring proper nutrition. Your body requires more nutrients than ever when it is fighting an infection. Malnourished and underweight people are more prone to get tuberculosis and are also more susceptible to reinfection after treatment. Improper nutrition lowers immunity and affects the body’s immune system to fight tuberculosis bacteria off.

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Tuberculosis patients who consume a diet that lacks nutrients encourage the persistence of active tuberculosis disease, and active tuberculosis, in turn, worsens malnutrition. In order to keep your body ready to fight this tough bacteria, you have to eat right. Your diet should include:

1) Protein-Rich Food

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Tuberculosis patients do not eat properly due to loss in appetite, leading to protein deficiency, which has detrimental effects on the body’s ability to fight tuberculosis. This is why such patients need to indulge in foods rich in protein, such as eggs, lean meats, cottage cheese, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, etc. The body absorbs these foods easily and converts them to energy. Protein also strengthens immunity, as it is the building block of the body.

2) Foods Rich in Vitamin C and B6

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Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) and vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) are essential to keep your nerves healthy, help the body use energy, keep lungs healthy, and heal wounds. Liver, fish, poultry, nuts, chickpeas, broccoli, soybeans, Brussel sprouts, banana, cantaloupe, dried fruits, and whole grains are some examples of foods rich in vitamin B6. And vitamin C can be found in kiwis, oranges, grapefruit, limes, strawberries, cabbage, kale, sweet peppers, and tomatoes.

3) Foods Containing Zinc

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Nuts and seeds are the best options to meet your daily requirement of zinc. Nuts and seeds, such as sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds, are great for TB patients. Including these zinc-rich foods in your diet will help you combat infections like TB.

4) High-Fiber Foods

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The fiber content in dark green leafy vegetables, whole grain cereals, pulses, and legumes will keep your gut healthy and remove harmful toxins from the body. Dark leafy greens are also rich in iron. Make sure you cook your food in unsaturated oils like olive oil and sunflower oil instead of lard, butter, or margarine.

5) Antioxidant-Rich Foods

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Brightly-colored vegetables and fruits like bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, cherries, and blueberries are rich in antioxidants. Tuberculosis bacteria promote tissue injury and increase the production of free radicals, which are unstable atoms that can damage human cells. These antioxidant-rich foods neutralize free radicals and protect the body.

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