Nutrition Tips For Cardiac Patients During Covid
The Covid-19 pandemic has created a lot of havoc around the world including India with an estimated 85 lakhs people who have been infected with the virus in India and with over one-lakh deaths. Although the recovery rates are approximately 90-95% and the deaths are approximately 1-2% of the total, long term sequel following the infection such as chronic fatigue and long term respiratory dysfunction are caused.
Despite the use of several anti-body medications there have been no proper medications available at the moment, when the whole world is waiting for the arrival of the vaccine. Hence preventive measures seems to be very important than the actual treatment.
Improving the immunity of the individual plays a vital role in preventing infection including the Covid.
People who eat well-balanced diet are likely to be healthier with stronger immune systems. They also have a lower risk of chronic illnesses and infectious diseases including Covid. Proper nutrition and hydration are vital in this regard, especially for people with cardiac diseases and conditions. We have seen many reports, which talk about various cardiac complications as a byproduct of Covid or post-Covid. Hence, it is critical for people with existing heart conditions to be careful.
Here are a few health & nutrition tips for people with heart ailments:
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables
Eat fresh vegetables, rather than having cooked vegetables. It is important to consume fruits and vegetables as fresh as possible, since cooking/boiling vegetables decrease the vitamins, minerals and fiber content. It is advisable to eat fresh vegetables such as – carrots, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, onion, cucumber, broccoli, brinjal, capsicum, bell peppers. Always wash these vegetables thoroughly several times in order to remove pesticides that may be used during the cultivation. Some vegetables, which may be difficult to consume raw can, be steamed or flashed in a pan.It is also important to consume fresh fruits like orange/sweet lime, pineapple, fresh berries, papaya, kiwi, guava, tomatoes, and banana.
Try to include these fruits and vegetables as many times as possible during the day in your meals. For example you can mix chunks of freshly cut fruits with your serving of oats, topping for smoothies or as a mid day snack.
Drink enough water every day
Water is essential for life. It carries nutrients and compounds in blood, regulates your body temperature, gets rid of waste, and lubricates and cushions joints.Drink 1 to 1.5 liter of water every day. Many people drink warm water on an empty stomach as first in the morning in India for cleansing the body and wash off all the waste products that is accumulated in the body during the night.Drinks that contain vitamin C, vitamin D and Zinc are good immune-boosters.
While, water is the best choice, but you can also consume other liquids, fruits and vegetables that contain water, for example lemon juice. Juice of Amla, Tulsi, Ginger and turmeric.
Hot drinks – Green Tea or Black Tea with Ginger, Tulsi, Pepper, Turmeric etc or Kabasura Kudineer have also been known to contain a lot of anti-oxidants, which may help to remove waste products, and helps to increase the immunity. However, one should not over consume it. These have to be consumed in moderation.
Eat less salt and sugar
Salt is basically sodium chloride which increases the osmolality of the blood cells making it thick and will increase the water retention in the body which increase the blood pressure. Hence, it is advisable to reduce high soda content items like pickles, papads, chips etc. It is important to limit the intake of salt to less than 5gm, i.e. approximately one spoon of salt per day. Consume iodized salt, which prevents any thyroid dysfunction. Himalayan pink salt is a good alternative.
It is advisable to avoid high salt food snacks like chats, which contain lot of sauce, and avoid high sugar food snacks like cakes, cookies, chocolate etc.
Put a cap on your intake of soft drinks or sodas and other drinks that are high in sugar. Drinks such as packed fruit juices, fruit juice concentrates and artificially flavored syrups, flavored milks and yogurt drinks have added sugars, which are harmful for your body.
Use of supplementary foods:
Eat lot of rich wholesome food and well balanced diet that contains carbohydrates, protein and fat. Usually supplements are not required, however if a person is sick or body has deficiencies, supplements are required along with a healthy diet. Do not fall for false advertisements about supplement products that claim they can help you lose weight or cure heart diseases. Consult a nutritionist before taking any sort of supplements, even if they are available over the counter.
It is also important to pay attention to everyday activities & lifestyle.
It is the most important factor for any cardiac patient or people with heart ailments. Physical activity is important to keep that blood circulating. Do not exhaust yourself, but a minimum of 20-30 minutes of activity is important. If you’re someone with existing heart condition/ who has had a surgery recently, consult your cardiologist and include some exercise in your everyday regime. You can start with short walks and simple exercises.
Yoga/Meditation every day
Stress management is also important for heart patients. Try to meditate for 30 mins daily. Deep Breathing exercises will help with your stress and over-all well being. You can do beginners Yoga by watching videos. Yoga helps to improve the overall body functioning.
Natural sunlight is also very good for body. Stand in direct sunlight for 15-20 mins every day at your home. Preferably before 10am or later 4pm, ideally the early morning sun before the UV rays come out.
Avoid eating out
Home-made food is the best. Eat at home to minimize your rate of contact with other people and lower your chance of being exposed to Covid-19. Maintain a distance of at least one metre between yourself and anyone who is coughing, sneezing, or feeling a bit under the weather in general. That is not always possible in crowded social settings like restaurants and cafes. Droplets from infected people may land on surfaces and people’s hands (e.g. customers and staff), and with lots of people coming and going, you cannot tell if hands are being washed regularly enough, and surfaces are being cleaned and disinfected fast enough.It is difficult to maintain social distancing and hand hygiene in crowded restaurants and hotels etc. Hence it is important to avoid going out as much as possible.
Above and all, be responsible. Do not venture out unless necessary. Wear a mask every time you go out or even while having a conversation with someone from outside. Wash your hands more often. Stay Safe!
(Author is the Vice President and COO at Frontier Lifeline Hospital)