Proper diet, sleep patterns, and exercise are key to recovery from Covid
Posted on 6/5/21, 9:37 pm
Many have recovered from Covid, but the experience has left them weak, tired and frail. What you eat or drink supports the recovery process and helps you get back to everyday life faster.
Importance of Diet
Loss of appetite, loss of taste and smell, fear and anxiety make it difficult for us to eat. If we are not adequately nourished, our body uses its natural energy stores and muscle wasting and weakness occurs. In addition, our bodies need more energy and fluids when fighting an infection. Hence, you need to eat and drink more than you normally would.
Road to recovery
Scale calories: Getting enough calories is essential to regain energy. Eat foods that are nutritious and high in calories at the same time. Consume high-calorie foods like whole milk, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, cheese, red meat, fatty fish, and nuts. For those who cannot force themselves to eat more, it is best to eat small amounts but often. You can eat every few hours. Drink meal replacements or protein drinks between meals. Increase the amount of oil when cooking or drizzle some extra ghee on your chapattis or dal. You can also add a dessert like custard or rice pudding to your meals to increase the calorie quotient.
Eat slowly, take small bites, and inhale deeply as you chew. Eat sitting down and choose foods that are easier to chew. If you feel full too quickly, try to drink fluids between meals rather than with meals.
Wrap up egg whites: Consumption of high protein foods should be a priority. Protein is the building block of our body. Sufficient protein intake is crucial for cell growth and regeneration. It helps repair our body tissues during recovery and also supports our overworked immune system fighting the infection. If you are feeling weak and having difficulty breathing, increase the amount of protein in your diet to prevent muscle breakdown and to make your breathing muscles stronger. So add items like lentils, legumes, milk and dairy products, soy, nuts, seeds, chicken, fish, and eggs. If you have poor appetite, eat foods rich in protein. People with chronic kidney disease should consult a doctor before adjusting their protein intake.
Restore the bowels: Infection and antibiotic treatment can change your healthy gut bacteria. This can increase inflammation in the body. Probiotics can also help restore immunity. Add in probiotic foods like yogurt, buttermilk, and our traditional pickles. Some cheeses like cheddar, gouda, and mozzarella also contain probiotics.
Liquid filling: Even a slight fever can dehydrate you. Not only does water regulate body temperature, it also flushes out toxins. Try to drink 2.5-3 liters of water a day. You can also drink fruit juices, coconut water, thin buttermilk, and lemon water with a pinch of salt. You can even try chicken or vegetable soup. Kidney patients should avoid coconut water and fruit juices (with potassium restriction). Diabetics should avoid fruit juices. Try to drink fluids at the end of the meal – drinking before or during a meal can make you feel too full.
move: Exercise can drain you and leave you breathless. However, being active and increasing your mobility can have positive effects on your mental and physical health. The toxicity of the virus makes you lose your appetite and you may find that your muscles have weakened. In addition, prolonged illness means staying home longer, which in turn leads to decreased physical activity and significant muscle loss. Intensive care patients suffer from enormous muscle wasting. Once your doctor nods to you, exercise should be encouraged to gain endurance, strength, and a better mood. Simple exercises such as stretching, balance and control exercises, strengthening exercises should be started gradually under guidance.
Deep breathing: During the recovery phase, breathing exercises strengthen your diaphragm and bring vital oxygen into your bloodstream. It can increase lung capacity and then strengthen your lungs. Deep breathing also keeps you calm and relieves symptoms of anxiety and fear. You can lie down or sit down to do breathing exercises. Abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing is a technique that has been shown to be beneficial in improving lung capacity and function. However, if you experience shortness of breath or chest pain at rest, stop exercising; it can make your symptoms worse.
Sleep: Many people have trouble getting a good night’s sleep during the recovery phase. You have trouble falling asleep / staying asleep, some wake up too early. This may have been triggered by fear, anxiety, and loneliness during isolation. Get enough sleep, around eight to ten hours a day, because when you sleep your body accelerates the recovery process. Avoid using equipment at least an hour before bed to minimize exposure to blue light.
Supplementary support: Consider a multivitamin supplement if you are undereating. Whey protein supplements are great choices for increasing protein intake. It is a convenient option for those who are alone and have difficulty preparing meals. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. They help reduce inflammation and can improve your immune response. Probiotic supplements can be used to restore gut health and immunity.
However, you have to keep in mind that the fire has not yet been extinguished, the fight is far from over, so please mask and get vaccinated.
Hena Nafis is a nutritionist and owner of the nutrition and lifestyle clinic Nutrience and the health café Eat Good Food. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram @nutriencebyhenanafis