Typhoid is one of the most prevalent transmittable ailments that are spread through food and water contamination. It is a type of fever caused by the bacteria Salmonella Typhi, which attacks certain parts of our digestive tract (primarily intestine) and leads to ulcers along with a number of other signs and symptoms (chill, weakness, fatigue, sore throat, vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, slow heart rate, uneasiness, headaches, rashes, etc.). Due to lower immunity levels, children are often more susceptible to typhoid and sometimes they remain carriers of the disease even after recovery.
Nutritional Problems To Combat
Typhoid fever affects our gastrointestinal system, which eventually results into quite a few serious nutritional issues. These include:
- Daily loss of 250 grams to 500 grams of proteins in muscle tissues
- Fast depletion of glycogen reserves
- Disturbed fluid balance
- Poor absorption of nutrients from ingested foods
- Intestinal bleeding / perforation due to ulceration
- Aggravated infection / injury of intestinal tract due to medications
Though antibiotic medications are essential for combating these problems, it is even more important to make some significant dietary and lifestyle changes to bolster the immune system of the patient and speed up the healing process by reducing the severity of the symptoms.
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Rules For Dietary Management
The main objective of dietary modifications for typhoid is to provide sufficient nutrition to the patient while causing less stress on his or her digestive system. Proper dietary management for typhoid can give relief from the acute symptoms. Here are a few general rules to follow while making a typhoid diet plan:
- The diet should be a high-calorie one to keep the patient filled, nourished and energetic even when he/she has low appetite. Initially, the consumption of 1000-1200 kcal/day is good to meet the increasing needs of energy and it should be adjusted afterwards based on tolerance and recovery.
- It must be rich in protein to fight against fatigue and weakness. However, meat and fish should be avoided for the first few weeks of the disease as they might turn out to be heavy on your digestive system.
- As excessive sweating causes loss of water and minerals in the body, there must be at least 3-4L of fluid in daily diet to correct as well as maintain the water-electrolyte (sodium, potassium, chloride) balance.
- The diet should contain carbohydrates that are very well-cooked and easy-to-digest (i.e. glucose, starches, honey, sugarcane, etc.) in order to facilitate absorption of nutrients and ensure enough nourishment.
- High-quality emulsified fats, such as milk fat, butter, cream, etc. can be included in the diet only if there is no symptom of diarrhea.
- All forms of non-soluble dietary fibre should be avoided in the diet as they can be harsh on the weak intestinal system and cause severe irritation. Rather, fine and soluble fibres should be consumed in high quantities.
- There should be no solid, semi-solid or raw food in the diet. All vegetables should be properly boiled and/or well-cooked to make soft, bland and digestible puree.
- A typhoid diet should include meals in small portions and frequent intervals at the initial stage. The portions might be increased as the condition of the patient improves gradually.
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Foods To Consume
Homemade foods are always preferred for typhoid patients, but there are certain restrictions too. So, here is a list of recommended foods that might help you prepare a perfect diet chart:
- Liquid / Fluid: Mineral water (more than 2.5 litre), warm boiled water (with a tablespoon of honey), glucose water, tea, broth, coconut water, vegetable soups (boiled and strained with no spice), diluted fruit juices (orange, apple, sweet lime, pomegranate, etc.).
- Dairy Products: Milk, buttermilk (mixed with mashed banana or fresh coriander juice), soft cheese, paneer, milk-based beverages.
- Low-Fibre Foods: Spinach, carrot, squash, eggplant, turnip, bitter melon, potato, refined cereals (wheat flour, semolina, etc.), softened soda crackers, rice pudding, washed pulses, porridge, custard.
- Protein-Rich Foods: Egg, fish, cheese, poultry, meat paste.
- Refined Foods (sugar content must be high): Honey, sugar, jam, jelly, candy, grass jelly, seaweed.
Foods To Stay Away From
Foods that cause additional stress on the digestive tract of a typhoid patient should be avoided in all circumstances. The diet chart should never include foods that contain:
- Strong flavor: Onion, garlic, radish.
- Fried and junk: All sorts of snacks like fritters, samosas, etc.
- Irritants: Spices, chutneys, sauce, vinegar, pickles, hot seasonings (cayenne pepper, chili powder, etc.).
- Fats: Sweets, butter, etc.
- Non-soluble dietary fibres: Spinach stem, papaya, kale, sweet potato, whole grains, whole pulses, seeds and skins of fruits and veggies.
- Gas-Producing Ingredients: Cauliflower, cabbage, durian, capsicum, jackfruit, pineapple, turnip.
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Just like the typhoid diet, the recovery diet is also very important as it helps in reducing the length of the recuperative stage considerably. It might include bland semi-solid foods that are low in fibre and easy on the digestive system. The patient might start consuming well-cooked khichdi, yogurt-rice, cereals, porridge, lentils, legumes, cottage cheese, kheer, butter, cream, thick broths, fruit custards, etc. at this phase of the disease.
Proper dietary management can help subside typhoid symptoms as well as accelerate the recovery by replenishing the health of the immune system. However, it is vital to consult with a doctor before making a diet chart for a typhoid patient.