The human body relies on its immune system to fend off infections. To replenish this mechanism, a supply of vital nutrients is needed on a routine basis. Unfortunately, during sickness, nutrient absorption goes down which affects the recovery period.
Isaac Bikorimana, a nutritionist at Kibagabaga hospital, says that without a good meal during this period, most organs in the body remain deprived of essential nutrients which weakens the body’s immunity.
“The entire defense system needs nutrients to fight against infections. Ordinarily these are obtained from foods rich in antioxidants such as Vitamin A, C and E. In addition, proteins and mineral elements like iron, zinc and copper which strengthens the system are required,” he explains.
Bikorimana adds that intake of proper nutrients ensures that damaged cells are repaired as soon as possible and normal health regained in the shortest time possible.
“When a person has an infection and takes in the necessary nutrients on a daily basis, it supports repairing of worn out body cells and prevents further damage to body cells. Eventually the body recovers quickly,” he adds.
Adequate supply of citrus fruits, fibre foods and vegetables
During chronic illnesses, it is important to rely on a number of citrus fruits such as watermelon, oranges and mangoes.
Most nutritionists suggest that since the body is laden with toxins during that period, there is need to establish efficient regulatory mechanisms.
“Whether the fruits are consumed as a whole or squeezed to form juice, the outcome is good towards eliminating waste products through the liver, the kidney and the skin,” explains Bikorimana.
However, King Faisal Hospital Nutritionist Rene Tabaro explains that as a result of dehydration during fever, intake of juices, high fiber foods and green leafy vegetables is needed to ensure proper bowel movements.
“Remember during this period, a lot of water is lost. In case an individual fails to consume the necessary juices, bowel movements would be affected which predisposes an individual to constipation. Eating food rich in fiber alleviates some of these problems,” he says.
Combine proteins with food rich in natural antibiotics
Tabaro also notes that protein rich foods such as fish are very effective in healing and retarding inflammations.
“Protein foods like meat should be combined with grapes, nuts and apples on a daily basis. Fish is ideal for clearing inflammations because it contains omega 3 fatty acids,” adds Tabaro.
Tabaro further adds that brown rice and whole bread taken on a daily basis provide essential antioxidants that clear antibiotic and pesticide residues.
“Whole food diets of brown rice and bread aid in protecting the body against diseases due to their antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. These are essential in preventing the antibiotic and pesticide residue we eat in food”
On fungal diseases, Bikorimana advises that ginger and garlic should be made part of a regular diet because of their natural antibiotic properties.
“Garlic has constituents that act as natural antibiotic that are important in healing of recurrent colds, and flu. Similarly ginger has antibacterial, antifungal properties that relieve discomforts in the stomach,” advises Bikorimana.
Despite these nutritional interventions, health experts warn that smoking and alcoholism should be avoided in situations when the immune system is subject to distress. They also suggest that personal hygiene should be observed at all stages when dealing with food during illnesses.