Diet For Malaria Patients
Caused by the bite of an Anopheles mosquito, malaria is actually a parasitic infection. The mosquito transports the parasite from one infected human to another. These parasites then enter the bloodstream, infecting the red blood cells. Symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, anemia, headaches, bloody stools, nausea and vomiting, and in severe cases, coma. While there is no specific diet for malaria patients, emphasis is laid on providing adequate nutrition.
A good diet ensures that the body is not put under unnecessary duress. During this time of illness, the patient’s body is weak and the the antibiotics administered for treatment can further weaken the body. Hence, malaria diet should focus on strengthening the patient’s immune system without putting too much stress on the liver, kidneys, and digestive system as a whole.
- Phase 1: Once diagnosed with malaria, the patient can be put on an orange juice diet. This is recommended especially if the patient has high fever. In most cases, this fever lasts for a week to ten days.
- Phase 2: The next phase of the diet plan involves eating only fruit. During this phase, the patient should be given a healthy serving of fresh fruits. Some of the fruits to include are pineapples, papayas, oranges, grapes, apples, grapefruits, and mangoes. Keep in mind that the fruit diet should not last for more than three days. The patient can be given milk on the third day of the fruit diet as milk contains proteins and fats that are needed by the body.
- Phase 3: During the convalescing period, the patient can be given a well-balanced diet consisting of not only fruits but also vegetables, whole grains, and nuts (other than groundnuts and other oil-rich nuts). Here’s a basic plan for this period:
While this is a recommended diet plan for malaria patients, it is best to always consult your doctor before making any drastic dietary changes. Patients with other underlying conditions like diabetes or existing heart and liver disorders may require special diets. They should not follow this diet without consulting a doctor.
- In the morning: The patient can be given a glass of lemon juice, preferably lukewarm. Honey can be added to sweeten the drink.
- For breakfast: A bowl of fresh fruits along with a glass of milk is recommended.
- Lunch: Lunch should include steamed vegetables and if the patient is hungry, one or two whole grain tortillas can be given. Buttermilk is a good drink to wash the food down.
- Mid-day meal: A glass of vegetable or fresh fruit juice.
- For dinner: Dinner can include homemade cottage cheese, sprouts and a bowl of salad made with fresh green vegetables and some lime juice dressing.
Foods that need to be avoided when one has malaria include:
- Alcohol, tea, coffee, and other caffeinated beverages. Refined and processed foods, including white flour, cakes, and pastries.
- Meat, sauces, pickles, and other condiments should also be avoided.
Foods After Malaria
A light diet consisting of vegetables, poultry, fish and may be a little red meat is recommended, as it provides the necessary protein for the body to repair itself. Include plenty of green vegetables, whole grains, rice, and iron-rich foods as they are considered good for malaria patients. During recovery, a malaria patient tends to lose his/her appetite, so attention should be given to provide as much variety as possible.