It is that time of the year again. The monsoon showers are here to take all our summer woes away. The arrival of the much-awaited rains has also triggered a bevy of infections and diseases. Malaria is one of the most common vector-borne diseases which can prove to be fatal, if not taken care of in time. It is associated with high grade fever and is transmitted by the bite of an Anopheles mosquito. This mosquito transports the parasites from one infected person to another. They eventually enter the blood stream infecting the red blood cells.
Common Symptoms Of Malaria Are:
Headache, fever, fatigue, muscle pain, back pain, chills, sweating, dry cough, enlargement of the liver, and vomiting.
In some cases of a more severe kind, other organs get involved and there could be sever blood loss, hypoglycaemia, kidney failure, respiratory involvement, cerebral malaria, jaundice, loss of consciousness and even death.
Treatment Of Malaria:
Treatment includes various drugs recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), and the severity of the ongoing infection. However, there is no vaccination for prevention of Malaria and preventive therapy is dictated by the place of origin and by your doctor's advice.
If you are infected by the malarial parasite, eating a healthy diet becomes the cornerstone for fast and healthy recovery and to fight the infection. Food keeps the body fuelled to fight of the parasite attack, our immune system must be fed well to fight well. Good nutrition is an established prerequisite for quick and safe recovery. The medications may boost our internal system to fight back but fuelling our body with healthy foods will make our system work more efficiently. We really don't feel like eating when we are unwell; therefore, to make it easy for you, here are a few pointers to keep in mind when you have suffering from Malaria.
Foods To Eat While Treating Malaria
- Energy Giving Foods
Simple sources of carbohydrates that do not need much digestion and provide instant energy are at the top of the list. With low appetite and bouts of fever, you need to refuel the body fast. Glucose water, electoral, sugarcane juice, coconut water, sherbets of rose or khus, orange squash are instant energy drinks that replenish fluids and provide energy. Toffees, chocolates, ice creams are other items that can be added to the list. Chilled foods also help reduce nausea.
- Load-Up On Proteins
Proteins are a must have as our immune system feeds on proteins, and foods like dals, chicken and eggs are some of the right options to add to your diet. Dals can be made into a soup and flavoured with lemon; cakes are a good way to consume eggs when appetite is low and taste buds need to be cajoled. Milk, chaas, lassi and yogurt add not just proteins but valuable minerals. Yogurt also adds probiotics, which help overcome gastric symptoms and improve taste and digestion.
- Include Vitamins In Your Diet
Vitamins from fruits, fresh fruit juices help not just the immune system but also are good sources of energy and electrolytes. Citrus fruits help fight the infection with Vitamin C; red and yellow fruits help add Vitamin A, which is a crucial nutrient for our immune system and a potent antioxidant. Fruits like guava add both Vitamin C and Iron to help build up RBC'S
- Have Nuts And Seeds
Nuts and seeds are small powerhouses of several healthy nutrients along with healthy fats and proteins. Soaked almonds, or crushed almond in milk, give a lot in small amounts. They are also rich in phytonutrients, which help fight the antioxidant stress caused by the infection
- Herbs And Spices
Ajwain-infused water will help keep the digestion healthy. Ajwain being a strong carminative, it well prevents bloating and gas. Saunf is another digestion booster.
Turmeric, as we all know, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities. It also enhances the immune system.
- Keep Yourself Hydrated
Clean drinking water up to 3-3.5 litres a day to keep yourself hydrated even if you have a fever. Dehydration can put you at risk of further deterioration of your condition. So, stay hydrated!
Foods To Avoid While Treating Malaria:
- High Fibre Food
Very high fibre foods may not sit well in your tummy, so give it a break. Whole grains, whole dals and vegetables with tough fibres may cause gas and indigestion.
- Spicy Food And Sauces
Avoid very spicy and rich sauces. The chatpata food may sound good but it could trigger of a reaction because of the medication you are taking.
- Junk Food
This one is a no brainer! Junk food is a big no when you are suffering from Malaria. Having junk food may even worsen your condition. Junk food is not healthy for a normal body, and during illness, it may wreak havoc.
- Avoid Caffeine
Excessive intake of coffee, tea, or any strong caffeine drink may disturb your digestive system.
Diet Plan For Malaria Patients | Follow This Diet Plan If You Are Suffering From Malaria:
Early Morning: Ajwain water + 5 Raisins and 5 soaked almonds
. Tea: 1 cup with sweet Biscuits
. 9am: 2 Toasts with butter and scrambled egg/ paneer bhujia + fresh coconut water
. 11am: Fruit + Dahi 1 big bowl or thick lassi 1 glass
. 1pm: Rice + Dal + Cucumber Raita
. 4pm: Tea+ Paneer aloo chat/ Bread with nut butter/ Cake piece/ Besan Ladoo
. 6 pm: Fruit + 5 Almonds+ 1 tsp pumpkin seeds
. 8pm: 1 Bowl Rice Kheer/ Sooji kheer with stir-fried veggies like zucchini, carrots, peas, broccoli
. 10pm: 1 glass milk + a pinch of haldi and cinnamon
In any infection, we may not feel like eating but one must remember that our body needs maximum nutrition to fight at that time. Taking small frequent meals helps; it also keeps the digestive system in check. Having strong medicines may disturb our digestive system. Ideally, if you eat well daily and keep your body healthy, recovery from infectious diseases is faster. So, eat well and stay healthy!
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About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.