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World TB Day 2022: Foods To Consume And Avoid By Tuberculosis Patients

World Tuberculosis Day is celebrated every year on 24 March to commemorate the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis (TB) by Dr Robert Koch in 1882. The day is meant to educate people of the impact of tuberculosis and how one can prevent and manage the infection.

Tuberculosis is a serious bacterial infection that affects the lungs; it easily gets transmitted between humans when they cough or sneeze.

Tuberculosis And Nutrition

Nutrition and tuberculosis run side by side. Patients with active tuberculosis are often found to have lower nutritional status compared to healthy individuals. The malnourishment leads to a poor immune system, which further causes symptoms like reduced appetite, weight loss, altered metabolism and nutrient malabsorption. [1]

A study says that before antituberculosis treatment methods were developed, a diet packed with proteins, calories, minerals, fats and vitamins were considered to be an essential factor in treating the condition. Though medications for tuberculosis is the primary treatment method, the diet has its own role as a secondary treatment method in treating tuberculosis. [2]

An effective diet can help treat the symptoms of tuberculosis and help in the early recovery of the patient. It also prevents the chances of reinfection. There are also some foods that could worsen the symptoms and increase the risk of morbidity and mortality in patients.

In this article, we will discuss some of the foods which a tuberculosis patient must eat and avoid. Take a look.

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Foods To Include

1. Ginger

A study talks about the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in treating pulmonary tuberculosis. It says that ginger can help reduce the levels of TNF alpha (inflammatory cytokines), ferritin (blood protein that contains iron) and MDA (oxidative stress). High levels of inflammatory cytokines increase the risk of inflammation; elevated iron levels increase the risk of TB infection and death, and high oxidative stress causes damage to lung cells. [3]

2. Pineapple

Pineapple contains many phytochemicals such as ellagic acid and ferulic acid and micronutrients like manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B1 and vitamin B, which are potent antioxidants. Consumption of pineapple is known to inhibit various types of viral and bacterial infections and helps boost immunity to prevent reinfection. [4] Also, pineapple juice soothes the respiratory tract and treats some TB symptoms such as could and cold.

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3. Banana

Weight loss is one of the common symptoms of tuberculosis, probably due to loss of appetite. Studies say that consuming fruits, preferably bananas can lead to weight gain in TB patients and improve the metabolism of the body. This is because bananas are energy-dense fruit and rich in nutrients like potassium and vitamin C that may help boost the immune system and fight the infection. Also, bananas may help neutralise the gastric juices and reduce the risk of ulcers, stomach pain and infection, all symptoms of TB. [5]

4. Onion

A study talks about the antibacterial properties of an onion type called Persian shallot. They are thin and pear-shaped onions that taste similar to mild garlic. Persian shallots not only help treat and prevent the infection due to their antibacterial properties but also inhibit the growth of those bacteria who have developed resistance against tuberculosis drugs. [6]

5. Tea

Some studies talk about the benefits of polyphenols in inhibiting the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, bacteria that causes TB. According to a study, regular consumption of tea (either black or green) is linked to a reduction of tuberculosis risk. Tea is rich in antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols like catechins and thus, its consumption could help reduce the risk of TB. [7]

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6. Pomegranate peel juice

A study describes the potential benefits of pomegranate juice made from its peel. It says that the peel of pomegranate contains polyphenolic compounds like ellagic acid, caffeic acid, quercetin and epigallocatechin. These compounds have greater antimicrobial activity and thus, can help inhibit the growth of TB bacteria and prevent respiratory infections. [8]

7. Jaggery

Tuberculosis is known to destroy the lung cells and cause coughing out mucus with bacteria, leading to the spread of the disease. Some studies say that jaggery can help effectively manage the TB symptoms such as cough. It may also help provide instant energy and improve the digestive system in TB patients.

8. Turmeric

Turmeric contains the main compound curcumin which is widely known for its antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating activities. A study has shown that consumption of turmeric can help inhibit the growth of TB bacteria and maintain good respiratory health. Some studies also say that curcumin is added to many antitubercular drugs to help in the treatment of TB patients. [9]

9. Mango

Mango, as summer fruit is rich in vitamin A (1,082 IU per 100 g) and carotenoids. A study indicates that deficiency of vitamin A in low and middle-income countries increase the risk of tuberculosis among the population, while its supplementation can help prevent the disease. As mango is high in vitamin A and carotenoids (Provitamin A), its consumption can help in the effective management of this infectious disease. [10]

10. Eggs yolks

According to a study low levels of vitamin D is directly related to the increased risk of active tuberculosis. Eggs yolks are a rich source of vitamin D, along with other nutrients like choline, folate, vitamin B5, vitamin B12 and selenium. Consumption of eggs can help in boosting immunity and lowering the risk of infection. [11]

11. Cod liver fish oil

A study talks about the protective effect of cod liver fish oil against liver damage caused due to tuberculosis medications. The study adds that fish oil has hepatoprotective and antioxidant effects and thus, could help in the effective management of the disease. [12]

12. Whole grains

Patients with TB are often found with lower levels of zinc in their bodies, probably due to a reduction in the production of the zinc carrier protein by the liver. Whole grains are a rich source of zinc; consumption of this food item can help improve plasma zinc levels and lower the severity of the condition. [13]

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Foods To Avoid

1. Excess coffee or caffeine. [13]
2. Carbonated drinks like soft drinks and energy drinks.
3. Maida or refined flour.
4. White bread
5. White rice
6. Foods that contain excess spices and salts such as seaweed or chips.

To Conclude

Patients with TB are to be encouraged to have a frequent intake of food i.e three meals a day as they have a loss of appetite. Also, they should increase the content of protein and healthy energy-boosting food items such as ghee (in small amounts), chapati, sprouted and groundnuts.

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