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Eating Well to Regain Your Strength after COVID

Fighting any disease will exhaust your energy reserves. Now, if you or a loved one have fought the COVID-19 war, you might not be as chirpy or eating as much as you used to, which means your energy levels may have reduced. Once you have completely recover

Post by on Friday, May 7, 2021

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Fighting any disease will exhaust your energy reserves. Now, if you or a loved one have fought the COVID-19 war, you might not be as chirpy or eating as much as you used to, which means your energy levels may have reduced. Once you have completely recovered, it is important that you make every attempt to return to your previous role. 

Don't be surprised if you don't return to your former self right away. It takes time and effort to regain some lost strength. One basic but critical place to begin is with your diet.

Eat on schedule: Create a diet schedule to incorporate regular meals and snacks into the daily routine. Eating on a frequent basis will help provide the body with nutrients and calories it needs to rebuild strength and immune function.

Protein: Eating adequate protein (fish, poultry, other meat, dairy, beans) at each meal is critical for stimulating muscle development and preventing muscle breakdown. Protein consumption, when combined with physical activity, can result in increased intensity over time.  Consume 25 to 40 g of protein per meal and 10 to 20 gram per snack. If you find it impossible to satisfy your protein needs by eating enough, try ready-to-drink protein drinks, homemade shakes, protein powders, or bars.

Calories: It is critical that you consume adequate calories in addition to eating well-balanced meals. This removes tension on the body and allows the food you consume to be used to restore your power. Complement your protein with greens, fruits, whole grains, or other starches, such as brown rice, potatoes, whole grain bread, and beans, which are high in both carbohydrates and proteins.

Monitor your weight. Now is NOT the time to go on a diet to lose weight! Be sure you eat enough calories after your weight has recovered to pre-illness levels, or to a healthy and acceptable level if you were overweight.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C supports the health of your immune system. It can be used in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Since vitamin C is water soluble (meaning it dissolves in water) and is used so often in your body, it is best to consume a vitamin C-containing food for each meal to ensure your body has the necessary protection. Eat an orange for breakfast, sweet red pepper in a salad or on the sandwich for lunch, tomato sauce for dinner, and/or raspberry for dessert.

Zinc: Another mineral needed for a healthy immune system is zinc. If you don't have enough zinc, you're more likely to get sick. However, if you have enough zinc, more is not always stronger. Zinc is mostly present in fish and beef, with minor amounts found in yoghurt, nuts, and beans.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D has been reported to be more than a vitamin. It is a hormone in the body that is used in a variety of systems, including bone health, muscle development, and also immunity.  Our bodies can produce vitamin D by exposing our skin to ultraviolet light from the sun. This is one of the reasons that going outdoors for 30 minutes at least three days a week (with sunlight on your hands, arms, legs, and face) is beneficial and recommended. However, when we age, we can lose the ability to convert the active source of vitamin D from the sun. Some foods contain vitamin D as well (e.g., fatty fish such as salmon, fortified milk and eggs). Since many people work indoors or live in areas of the world where there is little sunlight, and having enough vitamin D from food is not always possible, taking a daily supplement is also required. To begin, 800 IU to 1,000 IU per day, up to 2,000 IU per day, is a good starting point. When you return for the follow-up appointment, your doctor will be able to assess the right dose based on your blood pressure. It is probably safest not to exceed 2,000 IU/day without consulting a doctor, as too much vitamin D can cause complications.

Gut health, probiotics and prebiotics: In addition to our skin, our stomach serves as our first line of protection against infection. Our bodies become less capable of maintaining a stable atmosphere in our gut as we age. Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms/bacteria strains that can benefit humans in a lot of ways. Fermented foods such as yoghurt (with active cultures, which even soy yoghurt has), kefir, pickled vegetables, tempeh, kombucha tea, kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut include probiotics. Even consuming one part of yoghurt with active cultures a day (it will say so on the label) or having a kefir shake is beneficial. Prebiotics are the nutrients that probiotics use to survive. Fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains are high in prebiotics. Using certain ingredients contributes to a balanced digestive tract as part of a healthy immune system.

Calcium: This nutrient is important for bone health. You lose bone mass when you lose fat. Calcium-rich diets are important for maintaining bone mass. It is important for bone health to consume 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium every day. Since your body can only digest 500 mg of calcium at a time, consume calcium-rich foods at various meals and snacks during the day.

Omega-3 fatty acids: These, also known as omega-3s, can aid in the reduction of excess inflammation. As you heal, the body could be undergoing major inflammation as a result of the COVID-19 infection. Consuming omega-3-rich foods can be beneficial. Omega-3 fatty acids are present mostly in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, sea bass, and mackerel. Chia seeds, field flaxseeds, and edamame are all high in omega-3 fatty acids. To achieve your goals, eat oily fish twice a week and/or try supplementing.

Hydration: It is always important to stay hydrated, but it is particularly important when you are sick. We prefer to drink less as we grow older because our hunger sense becomes less acute. So, just like eating, it's a smart thing to drink on a timetable. We simply consume more water as we drink during the day rather than all at once. Shakes, water, juice, milk, or tea are both types of fluids. If you pee once in three to four hours and have a huge volume of urine, you are presumably keeping hydrated well.

Other health issues that may need further attention

Diabetes: It is important that you consult with a physician to help you manage your blood sugar levels.  Individualized therapy may be needed for heart disease, asthma, respiratory disorders, and other health issues. Contact your local facility or specialist, or look for a qualified dietician in your city.

Other ways to support muscle building and recovery:

Exercise has the biggest impact on regaining stamina and resilience, as well as aiding in the development of immune function. Nutritional supplements, particularly for those 65 and older, have minimal to limited benefits at best and can only complement – not replace – the effects of exercise as a means to enhance health and capacity to engage in everyday activities. Taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement may not help you develop muscle, but it can help close the difference between what you are eating and what you need.

The Author is Ms. Decency Rajput Chowdhury is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, VIMHANS, New Delhi. She also has a Precision Nutrition Coaching Certification and dabbles in the dietary sciences. She can be reached on decencychowdhury@gmail.com


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