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Tuberculosis Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid

By Dr. Harshad Limaye in Internal Medicine

Jul 01 , 2023 | 7 min read

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Overview of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious bacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs but can also impact other parts of the body. It spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. TB can be treated with antibiotics, but it can be challenging to cure if left untreated. People with tuberculosis should avoid certain foods like alcohol, sugary foods and processed foods, which can weaken the immune system and make it harder to fight off the infection.

Dietary guidelines for the management of Tuberculosis

Dietary guidelines play a crucial role in the management of tuberculosis (TB). Consuming the right foods can help boost the immune system, aid recovery and prevent further complications. Here are some dietary guidelines to consider:

1. Consume protein-rich foods

Protein is crucial for the growth, repair and maintenance of tissues in the body, and TB patients require more protein to aid recovery. Protein-rich foods like eggs, lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils and nuts are excellent sources of protein. Consuming protein-rich foods can help prevent muscle loss, promote healing and strengthen the immune system.

2. Consume high-calorie foods

TB patients often require extra calories to help aid recovery. Consuming high-calorie foods can provide the necessary energy. Some high-calorie foods that can be included in the Tuberculosis diet are avocados, cheese, nuts, peanut butter, whole milk, yoghurt, dried fruits, dark chocolate and granola bars. It's important to consume these foods in moderation and not rely on them exclusively for calorie intake.

3. Consume micronutrients

Micronutrients are essential nutrients that are required in small amounts for overall health and well-being. These include vitamins and minerals, which play a crucial role in maintaining the immune system, aiding recovery and preventing further complications. Consuming foods rich in micronutrients like dark green leafy vegetables, berries, citrus fruits, nuts and seeds can help ensure that the body is getting the necessary nutrients to function properly.

4. Consume superfoods

Superfoods like turmeric, garlic, ginger and green tea have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties that can aid in the management of TB. Turmeric contains curcumin, which has been found to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. Garlic and ginger have immune-boosting properties that can help fight infections, while green tea is rich in antioxidants that can help protect against cell damage.

5. Consume high-energy foods

TB patients may experience loss of appetite, nausea and weight loss, which can lead to weakness and fatigue. Consuming high-energy foods like smoothies, soups and stews can provide the necessary nutrients in an easily digestible form. These foods can be rich in carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, providing the necessary energy to aid recovery and prevent further complications.

6. Focus on good carbs

Good carbs are an essential part of a healthy diet, especially for TB patients. Good carbs are complex carbohydrates that are rich in fibre and nutrients, such as whole-grain bread, pasta and brown rice. These foods provide the body with sustained energy and help stabilise blood sugar levels, preventing spikes and crashes that can lead to fatigue and weakness.

7. Invest in good fats

Investing in good fats is important for TB patients as they need healthy sources of energy to aid in recovery. Good fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil, are rich in essential fatty acids that can help improve heart health, brain function and immune system function. These fats can also help regulate inflammation in the body, which can help TB patients reduce the risk of developing complications.

8. Ensure taking ample vegetables and minerals

Vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals that can help boost the immune system and aid recovery in TB patients. Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale, are rich in vitamins A, C and K, as well as iron and calcium. Other vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and bell peppers are high in antioxidants and fibre, which can help prevent cell damage and improve digestive health.

9. Foods rich in B-complex vitamins

B-complex vitamins are important for maintaining good health, especially in the context of tuberculosis management. Foods rich in B-complex vitamins include leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, dairy products, meat, fish and poultry. Consuming a balanced diet with these foods can help support the immune system and promote overall health during TB treatment.

10. Foods rich in zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy immune system, wound healing and growth and development. Some foods that are rich in zinc include oysters, beef, pork, chicken, nuts, beans, whole grains and dairy products. Adequate intake of zinc is particularly important for individuals with TB, as zinc deficiency can impair immune function and increase susceptibility to infection.

Tuberculosis Diet Chart for Indians

Based on the list of foods to consume and avoid for tuberculosis, the following is a sample Tuberculosis diet plan for Indian patients with TB.


Time

Meal

Food

7:00 AM

Early Morning

1 glass of fresh bottle gourd juice mixed with lemon juice + 1 tsp of honey + 2 soaked walnuts

10:00 AM

Breakfast

Cottage cheese sandwich(2 slices bread) + 1 cup skimmed milk OR 2 eggs in omelette form with any added cheese + 1 apple

1:00 PM

Lunch

1 cup veg pulao rice + 1 cup soy chunk curry OR 2 roti + 1 cup mushroom curry + 1 cup moong dal

4:00 PM

Mid Evening

6 soaked almonds + 2 cashews + 1 walnut 

+ 1 bowl poha/1 bowl rava upma

7:00 PM

Dinner

2 paneer stuffed capsicum + 2 rotis OR 1 cup mixed veg curry + 2 rotis

9:00 PM

Before Bed

1 glass of warm milk with turmeric and honey

Food items to limit or avoid in Tuberculosis

Here are some food items to limit or avoid in tuberculosis:

  • Processed Foods: sugars and Processed foods such as canned foods, packaged snacks and sugary cereals should be avoided as they are often high in unhealthy fats, sugars and artificial additives.
  • High-Fat Meats: Limit the intake of high-fat meats such as red meat, sausage and bacon, as these foods can be difficult to digest and can worsen symptoms of TB.
  • Fried Foods: Fried foods are high in unhealthy fats and can increase inflammation in the body, making it harder to fight off TB infection.
  • Refined Grains: Foods made with refined grains such as white bread, pasta and rice should be limited as they are low in fibre and can cause blood sugar spikes.
  • Sugary Drinks: Beverages like soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks should be avoided as they are high in sugar and can weaken the immune system.

Do's and don'ts in Tuberculosis

Here are some do's and don'ts for individuals dealing with tuberculosis:

Do's:

  • Follow the medication regimen prescribed by the healthcare provider strictly.
  • Practise good hygiene habits such as washing hands regularly and covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet rich in protein, vitamins and minerals to support the immune system.
  • Get plenty of rest and avoid stress as much as possible to support the body's healing process.

Don'ts:

  • Do not skip medication doses or stop taking the medication without consulting a healthcare provider.
  • Do not share personal items such as utensils or towels.
  • Do not smoke or use tobacco products as they can damage the lungs and weaken the immune system.
  • Do not consume alcohol or use drugs as they can negatively affect the body's ability to fight off infection.

Conclusion

In conclusion, tuberculosis is a serious infectious disease that requires medical attention and a comprehensive approach to treatment. By following a nutrient-dense diet, practising good hygiene habits, and following prescribed medication regimens, individuals can support their immune systems and improve their chances of successfully managing and recovering from TB. It's important to remember that early detection and treatment are key to preventing the spread of this disease and reducing its impact on individuals and communities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Can TB patients eat curd?

Ans. Yes, TB patients can eat curd as it is a good source of protein and beneficial bacteria that can support digestive health. Additionally, curd can help improve the absorption of nutrients from other foods. However, it is important to consume fresh, homemade curd rather than packaged or store-bought varieties to ensure that it is free from additives or preservatives.

Q2. Can TB patients eat rice?

Ans. Yes, TB patients can eat rice as it is a good source of carbohydrates and can provide energy to the body. However, it is recommended to choose brown rice over white rice as it is more nutrient-dense and can provide additional fibre. It's important to consume rice in moderation and to balance it with other nutrient-dense foods to ensure a well-rounded and healthy diet.

Q3. What foods should TB patients with diabetes consume?

Ans. TB patients with diabetes should focus on consuming foods that are low in sugar and carbohydrates and high in fibre, protein, and healthy fats. Examples include non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, and peppers, lean protein sources such as fish, poultry, and tofu, nuts and seeds, and whole grains in limited amounts.

Q4. Which fruits are good for TB patients?

Ans. Fruits such as papaya, oranges, guava, kiwi, and berries are good options for TB patients as they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can support the immune system. However, it is important to consume them in moderation and to choose fresh, whole fruits rather than canned or processed varieties.

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