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World Tuberculosis Day: Tuberculosis Food Guide

Tuberculosis is a communicable disease that is caused by the bacteria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is an airborne disease that usually affects the lungs. Thus, the bacteria that causes the disease is catapulted into the air in tiny droplets through coughs and sneezes which others inhale. Some symptoms of the disease are cough with sputum and blood, weight loss, fever, chest pain, and weakness. Today, as we mark World Tuberculosis Day, we remember people with tuberculosis disease and wish them speedy recovery. I also hope that affected persons and their caregivers will find the following food tips useful:

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Eat Protein Rich Foods

Most tuberculosis patients experience loss of appetite. They should therefore be given foods that are rich in protein like eggs, beans, groundnut, and milk. These foods can be easily absorbed by the body. They will help boost their immune system. Protein rich foods will also prevent muscle loss and help maintain serum albumin level.

Avoid Refined Carbohydrates

Refined or simple carbohydrates refer to sugars and refined grains that provide empty calories to the body. They are stripped of all nutrients; this perhaps explains why they are also called bad carbohydrates. Some examples of refined carbohydrates are pastries, white bread, pasta, most breakfast cereals, and sweet desserts. Instead of TB patients to have them, they should go for complex carbs like brown rice and oat meal which are higher in nutrient and fibre.

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

Excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption may have a diuretic or fluids flushing effect and and so they should avoid them. In fact, they are advised to replace caffeine and alcohol with water, low milk, and smoothies.

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Consume Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants are found in certain foods. They are said to prevent some of the damages caused by free radicals produced in the process of oxidation. Plant foods are rich sources of antioxidants. Tuberculosis patients are therefore encouraged to eat whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. These will destroy harmful oxygen molecules otherwise known as free radicals and protect the body.

Avoid Fried Foods

Tuberculosis and fried foods do not go together, thus, patients are encouraged to avoid having them. Fried foods contain a large amount of saturated fat. Saturated fat exacerbate symptoms that are associated with tuberculosis like abdominal cramps, fatigue, diarrhoea. Avoiding fried foods may be difficult, however, necessary sacrifices have to be made by patients to achieve a measure of comfort in sickness and eventual recovery.

Eat Meals Devoid of Trans-fatty acid

Tuberculosis patients who want to reduce symptoms of the disease should delete foods that are rich in trans fatty acid from their diet. This means that they should avoid commercially prepared cakes, pastries, cookies and all foods that lists partially hydrogenated vegetables as an ingredient.

Finally, TB patients should bear in mind that what they eat can either aid their quick recovery or worsen their health condition. Therefore, even when they are forced by sickness to sacrifice foods that they love, they should do so with the long term benefit in mind.


Web M.D

Mayo Clinic


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Obiamaka Angela Udevi

Udevi, Obiamaka Angela holds a Master of Arts degree in History & International Studies. She's a freelance writer with a passion for food and healthy living. She can be contacted through her email address,

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