Nutritional tips for preventing tuberculosis in children | Health

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi

Tuberculosis (TB) remains a significant health concern, particularly for children in regions with high TB prevalence but while TB prevention primarily involves vaccination and infection control, nutrition plays a crucial role in strengthening a child’s immune system and reducing the risk of TB infection. Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body and in children, it can be particularly devastating, making prevention a top priority.

Nutritional tips for preventing tuberculosis in children (Image by Semevent from Pixabay )

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Santosh N, Senior Consultant Pediatrician and Neonatologist at Apollo Cradle and Children’s Hospital in Bangalore’s Jayanagar, suggested some essential nutritional tips for preventing TB in children –

  • Balanced Diet: Ensure children receive a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients. A variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and dairy products provide essential nutrients necessary for a robust immune system.
  • Vitamin D: Adequate vitamin D intake is vital for immune function. Encourage children to spend time outdoors in the sunlight and include vitamin D-rich foods like fortified milk, fish, and eggs in their diet.
  • Vitamin C: This antioxidant vitamin helps protect against infections. Incorporate citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, and broccoli into their meals.
  • Zinc: Zinc is crucial for immune function. Food like lean meats, nuts, and whole grains are excellent sources of zinc.
  • Probiotics: These “good” bacteria support gut health, which is closely linked to immunity. Yogurt, kefir and fermented foods can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
  • Avoid Sugary and Processed Foods: Excessive sugar and processed foods can weaken the immune system. Limiting their consumption and focusing on whole, natural foods is beneficial.

Incorporating these nutritional tips into a child’s daily routine can help strengthen their immune system and reduce the risk of TB. Additionally, maintaining good hygiene practices, ensuring proper ventilation and vaccination are crucial elements in the comprehensive approach to TB prevention in children.

Echoing that proper nutrition plays a crucial role in preventing tuberculosis (TB) in children, Dr Chandra Sekhar Singha, Consultant, MBBS, MD- PEDIATRICS at Madhukar Rainbow Childrens’ Hospital in Delhi, some of the essential nutritional tips to protect children from TB are –

  • One should ensure that the child receives a balanced diet rich in nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and D, as well as essential minerals like zinc and iron. These nutrients strengthen the immune system, making it more effective in fighting off TB bacteria.
  • Protein is essential for growth and repair of tissues. Incorporating lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and plant-based protein sources like legumes into the diet can help in preventing the infection.
  • Provide healthy fats from sources such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. These fats support overall health and can enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Ensure that the child drinks plenty of water to maintain proper hydration, which aids in flushing toxins and bacteria from the body.

Dr Chandra Sekhar Singha concluded, “For Newborns, breastfeeding is a great source of proper nutrition. Breast milk provides essential antibodies and nutrients that protect against infections, including TB. Nutrition alone cannot prevent TB but it plays a vital role in maintaining a strong immune system. Combining a nutritious diet with other preventive measures, such as TB vaccinations and good hygiene practices, can help protect the child’s health and well-being. Always consult a healthcare professional for personalised guidance on the nutrition and healthcare needs of your child.”

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