EXCLUSIVE: New Study Finds Covid-19 Associated with Acute Weight Loss, Malnutrition
Any Infection in the human body increases the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and that gradually can lead to a malnourished state, especially if we don’t eat well during that phase. The body goes to a catabolic stage and it makes our muscle mass and feels weak and it eventually affects our immunity making us more prone to other infections.
The immune system is a wonderful collaboration between cells & proteins that work together to provide defence against infection. The immune system spread throughout the body to provide rapid responses to infection. The cells travel through the bloodstream or in specialized vessels known as lymphatics. Lymph nodes and the spleen provide structures that facilitate cell-to-cell communication.
Covid is also a viral infection and can affect our metabolism and body profile in the same way. Good nutrition helps the body fight infections, so providing adequate but not excessive nutrients (avoid overfeeding) & maintenance of healthy body weight is important.
So, to manage this acute weight loss here are a few tips-
Ensure to continue Nutrient-dense meals - even if you eat less (because of loss of appetite and taste). For example, if you consume dal rice- add ghee, add peanuts, add thick dal/ paneer pieces – thus the same meal gives you more nourishment
The body needs enough carbohydrates to support your increased energy requirements- add enough cereals. Legumes and starches in the diet. If you have less appetite, don’t fill yourself up with salads and soups as they give you micronutrients and not macronutrients.
Increase your protein in the diet- ensure to consume eggs, fish, chicken in a simple form, add paneer, milk, dals and pulses to manage your body’s requirements.
• Lentils & pulses -serving size: 30 g; protein per serving 6 g
• Dairy products - serving size: 150 ml, protein per serving 5 g
• High protein foods for non-vegetarian include poultry, fish, chicken, eggs
• Chicken/ Fish -serving size: 100 g; protein per serving 20 g approx.
• Egg –serving size: 60 g; Protein 6.5 g
Add good quality fats- Fat is essential for daily body process as well as for absorption of fat-soluble vitamins & should be prescribed in optimal balance
•Fat should comprise not more than 20-30 % of total caloric intake per day (consume Fish, Nuts and oilseeds to enhance the body’s capacity to recover.)
• The ratio of types of fats for health needs to be followed– sfa: mufa: pufa is 1:1.5:1
• Saturated fat sources: animal product & dairy.
• Mufa based oils: olives, soya bean, groundnut, almonds, rice bran • Omega 3 sources: ALA (flax seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds) & EPA & DHA (fatty fishes such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines etc.)
• Avoid trans fats in the diet
Take Calorie Dense Liquids- Instead of using plain water consume lime water, coconut water, juices, soups, smoothies and milkshakes so that you use your thirst to feed your body too
Use of clinical supplements - consult a qualified dietician to get the right match of supplement for your body to meet up the micronutrient deficiency. There are high protein supplements with enough amount of carbohydrates and fats which are ideal to use during and after Covid infection
Utilize the time to be with yourself and improve your mental health
Rest is equally important, sleep well and follow the sleep cycle
Do not miss your recommended dose of Multivitamins (like B-complex, Zinc and Vitamin C)
Try to be active so that you are able to eat well. Loss of appetite along with less activity makes you dull and you tend to feel low and depressed.
About the author: Mrs. Zamurrud M. Patel, RD Chief Dietician, Global Hospitals, Mumbai
Convener - Indian Dietetic Association Mumbai Chapter