Malaria is a common disease in Nigeria that many don’t take seriously. It is one disease we all point our fingers at when we begin to feel sick, some even begin medications right away without a proper test or prescription from the doctor.
This negligence or ignorance has led to the early grave of many.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
In a report by WHO, there was an estimated 229 million cases of malaria worldwide, as at 2019, and the estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 409,000 in 2019.
Malaria can lead to many complications mainly in children, pregnant women and older adults, if not properly treated, because almost any system of the body can be affected by malarial parasite.
However, Malaria is preventable and curable. To treat malaria, there is no specific diet, but one needs to ensure adequate nutrition to help the body fight the disease.
A diet for malaria should focus on boosting the immune system without causing harm to other organs like the kidney, liver or the digestive system.
It is best that a malaria patient has smaller meals throughout the day.
Here are foods to be avoided during malaria treatment:
1. Stay away from fats: Excessive use of fat in cooking or eating fry foods aggravate nausea, impaired digestion which leads to diarrhea.
They should be far from your meals as they make meals heavy, and is difficult to digest. Stay away from food high in fat content.
2. Stay Away from Spicy, fried and Refined food: Refrain from having food that is spicy. It will result in unnecessary stomach problems and heartburn.
3. Avoid Pastries: Cake, pastries, food made from maida, should be avoided.
4. Sauces and Pickles should not be taken: Sauces and pickles shouldn’t be included anywhere in the diet for a malaria patient.
5. Avoid Hot Tea and Coffee: Avoid intake of coffee, tea, cocoa, cola, or any other caffeinated beverage.
6. Avoid very High Fiber Foods like green leafy vegetables, fruits with thick skin, whole grain cereals. like fries, chips.
7. Avoid anything with a lot of cheese in it.
1. Hydrate yourself : At the time of fever, one experiences appetite loss, less tolerance and therefore, eating food becomes a challenge.
To compensate for such a situation, one must drink glucose water, fresh fruit juices, coconut water, sorbet made with lemon, salt, sugar and water, and electoral water.
While drinking water, make sure it is boiled or sterilized. Take in fluids in every way possible- milkshakes, juices of fruits and vegetables, rice water, pulse water, stew, soup, etc. Doctors recommend a daily fluid intake of at least 3 to 3.5 liters, if not more.
Fluids will help in washing out the toxins from the body via urine and stools and help you get well sooner.
Drink lots of fluids like water, juices, coconut water, and milkshakes. It helps the parasites move out from the body quickly.
2. Eat Rice or Any food High in Carbohydrate: High carbohydrate diet should be taken that will digest quickly and will release energy.
When the patient has a malarial fever, the body’s calorie, and nutritional requirement increases. This is known as the BMR or Body Metabolic Rate. Also, the need to increase calorie intake depends on the rise in body temperature.
Consume a high carbohydrate diet. Choose rice over wheat and millets. Rice can be digested easily and can release energy faster.
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3. Fresh fruits and Vegetables also work wonders for malaria patients. According to studies, vitamin A and vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables like beetroot, carrot, papaya, sweet lime, grapes, berries, lemon, orange help to detoxify and boost the immunity of the patient suffering from malaria.
Always eat combination of fruits and vegetables with different colours. They help detox the body.
4. Have a high protein diet: This helps to protect the body and helps in the synthesis of immune bodies which will fight against parasites. The requirement of protein is increased as there is a massive tissue loss.
A high protein with high carbohydrates diet is helpful in protein utilization for anabolic and tissue building purposes. Intake of high biological value protein such as milk, curd, lassi, buttermilk, fish (stew), chicken (soup/stew), egg, etc are useful to fulfill the requirement.
5. Add Omega-3 fats to your diet: It helps to reduce inflammation in the body.
6. Always take multivitamins: Opt for B-complex, and minerals. Vitamin A and Vitamin C rich foods such as carrot, beetroots, papaya, fruits especially citrus fruits (e.g. orange, mausambi, pine apple, grapes, berries, lemon, etc), with vitamin B complex are very useful to boost immunity. They help to rejuvenate your body.
It is important to work on vitamin loss by drinking electrolytes. Eating soups, stews or drinking fruit juices or dal water, coconut water, etc. are important.
Vitamin C and A rich foods such as papaya, beetroots, and other citrus foods etc. with vitamin B complex are important for a malaria patient.
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