Nutrition tips for Covid

Article contributed by  Dr.Sneha Patel

Ayurveda says that if an individual consumes wholesome food, there is no need to take medicines. If he indulges in unwholesome food there is still no need to take medicines. As in the latter case, medicines will not be effective.

In our science, Ahara or food, is considered as one of the the three pillars of life mentioned as Trayopsthambha. The other two are Nidra (sleep) and Bhramcharya (celibacy).

Food is not only important for maintenance of health but also for curing and preventing disease.

It is said that Cheeyate annadibhi iti kayah, meaning our body is made by the food we eat.

Acharya Charaka mentions pathya (wholesome food) as synonyms to chikitsa (treatment). This indicates that if wholesome food is consumed in the proper quantity at the proper time, it can help in preventing and recovering from disease – either by itself or in combination with Ayurvedic medication.

Pathyaahara or wholesome food is diet which is not only good for the physical body, but also serves to strengthen the mind.

Only when food is taken willingly and without any aversion, will it grant its benefits to the person.

 Relation between food and disease

Disease is caused due to vitiation in bodily doshas which results from many factors. One such important factor is indulging in an unhealthy diet.

According to Ayurveda, any disease or infection gets manifested in the body only when the Agni i.e. metabolism of an individual is disturbed. 

If one is infected with the Covid 19 virus, the Agni is compromised and one needs to pay utmost importance to diet during such a time to reduce the severity of the infection and bring it under control.

One of the first symptoms of fever or any disease according to Ayurveda, is the loss of appetite i.e. impaired digestion. One should be very vigilant and observe the development of any such symptoms in the body. 

During fever, it is commonly observed that there is alteration in the sense of taste of an individual, one finds every food article bitter. This alteration in taste can be understood as a signal from the body – the body is rejecting any sort of food consumption.

At this point it is very important to practice langhana i.e. fasting. Ayurveda texts laud fasting, “Langhanam param aushadha”. This means that fasting is the greatest medicine.

When there is any infection in the body, our body tries to fight back on its own. Autophagy is a phenomenon by which our body tries to fight any kind of infection or any external pathogen that has entered the body. But for this phenomenon to happen successfully, the glucose level in the body should be minimal at the level of cells. Cellular glucose level is not the same as blood glucose level. This minimal cellular glucose level can be achieved by fasting. Fasting here does not mean complete abstinence from food but consumption of food which is easy to digest and which does not cause further deterioration of impaired digestive function.

 Diet to be followed 

Food should be freshly made and light, it should be consumed immediately while still hot. Pulses and dals like toor, mung and masoor can be included. Vegetable soups, idiyappam, vegetables boiled with turmeric, pepper and cumin can be included in the diet. Rice gruel (broken rice kanji with cumin and pepper), green gram soup, godhumai rava kanji (samba rava). Brown/red rice should be preferred over white rice.

Diet to be strictly avoided

Excessive oil, idly, dosa, sathu maavu kanji, tea, coffee, other health drinks, fermented foods, biscuits, bread, maida, smoothies and milkshakes, raw salad, tamarind, pickles, food with urad dal, desserts, heavy-to-digest, deep fried, packaged, frozen and junk food should be avoided.  

Please also avoid 

  • Day sleep. 
  • Snacking between meals when not hungry.
  • Oil massage to the head or body.
  • Direct breeze, sun. 

 Regimen to be followed 

EAT ONLY at the onset of hunger, also reduce quantity of food i.e. eat only till 3/4th full. 

Drink very hot medicated water every 30 minutes. For medicated water boil 3 pinches of dry ginger powder and1 tablespoon of coarsely powdered coriander seeds in 3 litres of water for 10 minutes. Take a few sips of this water every half an hour.

Maintain a regular sleep pattern preferably from 10.00 or 10.30 pm to 6.00 am.

Diet during initial stage with symptoms 

It is best to take only kanji and soups (vegetable or green gram soup). 

If appetite is good and few symptoms are exhibited: 

Can include phulka (chapati made without oil or ghee), wheat dosa without oil, brown/red rice with sambar or kootu (without oil or tamarind). 

Mung dal khichdi with or without vegetables, boiled vegetables, porridge, gruels, green gram dosa, black channa (mookadalai), brown rice.