HT Brunch

Nutrition primer for convalescents

Dr Shikha Sharma


Most people view nutrition in terms of special meals for children, dieters and athletes. Many forget that convalescents require special care to bounce back to normalcy too. Increased research in post-surgical nutrition will eventually help patients recover faster and better.

Broken bones
The actual healing begins the moment the injury has occurred. First, the body creates clots to minimise blood loss, then it brings the healing components to the point of injury, then the bones begin to generate cells that multiply to fuse the bone. So the body needs: 
* Calcium (to build bones and blood acids); potassium (to maintain the acid–base balance, help blood clot, and grow bones); zinc (helps skin regenerate); vitamins, chromium (to manage insulin) and protein for muscle injury, bone building and energy.

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Coughing up a storm
Infections in the upper respiratory tract manifest as a cold, cough or trouble in the lungs. Food for patients should be pitta in taasir and drying.

Black pepper helps reduce phlegm
* Avoid rice, bananas, cold drinks, refined flour, fried foods, butter and lassi.
* Instead, serve soups rich in black pepper (which reduces phlegm), turmeric (fights infection), ginger ( a natural antibiotic).
* Steam treatments help decongest the nasal passage.
* Choose high-protein, low-fat foods like moong, chana, soya, steamed corn, pomegranate, apple, and sweet lime.
* For those coming out of pneumonia, ensure that the meals include protein for tissue repair.

Stomach troubles
Always start with the liver. It is the seat of metabolism and helps remove toxins from the body. If the liver is troubled, here’s what to do: 

High-protein chickpea will keep you going
* Drink plenty of fluids to replenish the electrolytes. Brown sugar and rock salt are known to be the best combination. In case of an emergency, a sachet of oral rehydration system also helps. 
* Have a turmeric decoction to fight infection, a ginger decoction to aid digestion, and a peppermint decoction to treat flatulence.

Photos: Thinkstock

From HT Brunch, April 27
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