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Food for TB: Make the right choice

Dr Arvind Kate, Chest Physician and Pulmonologist tells us what a person should eat while being treated for TB.

For someone who is suffering from TB or tuberculosis being on dot with medication is of prime importance. however, diet also plays an important role in recovery and recuperation. this doesn't mean that you need to switch to exotic and organic foods but eating nutritious and wholesome food is what helps to fight the bacterial infection better. We spoke to Dr Arvind Kate, Chest Physician and Pulmonologist at Zen Hospital, Mumbai to know what a person should eat while being treated for TB. Here are some FAQs on tuberculosis answered by an expert.

Is there any specific food a person suffering from TB should eat?

No, there is no specific diet that one needs to follow. But care should be taken that the food is cooked hygienically and one should eat a balanced diet. This is what will help boost immunity help the body to fight the bacterial infection and the medication work better.

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What are the kinds of foods they should eat?

It is often better that a person with TB sticks to a basic and healthy diet plan some changes being made to increase their intake of food. People with TB often have a poor appetite initially, but as the medications show their actions one's appetite increases and the intake of food is also expected to increase. A person with TB should aim to have three meals and three snacks each day to increase the amount of food they eat.

A healthy balanced diet can be achieved by having foods from four basic food groups. These are:

  • Cereals, millets and pulses
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Milk and milk products, meat, eggs and fish
  • Oils, fats and nuts and oils seeds.

What are the foods that they should avoid?

A person with TB should avoid the following:

  • Alcohol in any form, as it increases the risk of drug toxicity
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Excess of tea and coffee, or their intake with food
  • Tobacco and tobacco products
  • An excess of spices and salt

Is there any component of food that should be increased -- like more proteins or carbohydrates?

The six essential nutrients that should be included in the patient's diet are carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water. Attempts should be made to increase the energy and protein content of the food in meals and snacks without increasing its volume. So, for example, an addition of oil or butter to chapatti or rice can increase the energy content of the diet. A person with TB should also be encouraged to eat pulses in other forms e.g. roasted chana. Oils and fats are a source of energy. In terms of oil, soyabean oil, mustard oil and coconut oil, are all acceptable. Nuts like ground nuts are good sources of energy and protein and can be taken as snacks in either fried or roasted form. Groundnuts are equivalent in nutritional terms to more expensive nuts like almonds, cashews.

Proteins can be of animal origins like milk, eggs, meat and fish or of plant origin as in cereals & pulses. For vegetarians, a combination of cereals and pulses can give a quantity of protein equivalent to that of animal proteins. The daily consumption of milk and milk products is also beneficial.

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