If disease " any disease " is taxing on the body and depletes it of nutrition and immunity, then your recovery period should largely focus on replenishing these through a proper diet. This is true for COVID-19 infection, particularly because studies have shown that even mild symptoms of it can cause damage to the heart, lungs and brain.
Why diet matters
The UK's National Health Service (NHS) recommends that those who're recovering from COVID-19 need more building blocks (like proteins) to repair their bodies and more vitamins and minerals to help the process along. Such a recovery diet would not only help you get your strength back but also boost your immune system and keep other infections at bay until you're fully back on your feet.
"Your diet, nutrition and fluid intake are of great importance when you've had COVID-19," says Akanksha Mishra, a nutrition and wellness expert associated with myUpchar. "This infection is likely to reduce your appetite, and affect your ability to taste and swallow. So, your post COVID-19 diet should keep all these factors as well as your nutritional needs in mind." The following are the most important things you must do to meet your nutritional needs during the post COVID-19 recovery period.
1. Get protein
A protein-rich diet can help repair damaged body tissues, make up for the muscle loss that occurred while the infection lasted, and boost the immune system too. Protein is also one of the best sources of energy out there and eating enough of it can help you overcome post-disease weakness. Mishra recommends including a portion of protein-rich foods, like pulses, legumes, peanuts, milk, yoghurt, cheese, soy, eggs, fish and chicken, in each meal. Your overall intake of protein should be between 75-100grams per day.
2. Choose nutrient-dense foods
Having COVID-19, or any other infection for that matter means that your immune system has taken quite the beating. Replenishing the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your body needs is, therefore, an integral part of your recovery diet. Include plenty of fresh and seasonal fruits and veggies, as well as nuts and seeds in your diet, and have five to seven servings of them every day. While this can provide for your requirement of most vitamins, minerals, polyphenolic compounds and phytochemicals, you'll also need to get 15-20 minutes of sunlight every day for vitamin D.
3. Don't neglect calories
Sure, a low-cal diet is great for when you're trying to lose weight, but you want the exact opposite after suffering from COVID-19 infection. More calories mean more energy to fight off the infection and the ability to recover faster. So include calorie-dense foods in your diet but make sure they're healthy carbs and not empty ones. Opt for whole grains, potatoes, bread, pasta, rice, milk, avocados, jaggery and roasted chana.
4. Stay hydrated
Your body would have lost a lot of fluids due to the infection and fever, so you should get plenty of them to speed up your recovery. Drink eight to ten glasses of water every day and include soups, broths, herbal teas, kadha, non-caffeinated drinks, etc. in your diet.
5. Stay safe
COVID-19 can affect your sense of taste and smell, and that can put you off food. Getting over the infection may also give you a sense of security and you might feel like getting a taste of foods from your favourite joints. However, your safety and recovery should be your only priority now, so stick with fresh, simple, home-cooked meals which are prepared in sanitary conditions.
For more information, read our article on Diet for COVID-19 patients.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India's first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.Recovery Guidelines for COVID-19 patients.