Although mortality rates are declining, tuberculosis
remains a leading cause of death in the United States. In 2008,
statistics reported 12,904 cases, that is 4.2 out of 100,000
Latinos and Native Americans are the less affected minorities (Latinos have a rate of 8.1 cases per 100,000 people, and Native Americans and people born in Alaska have 6 cases per 100,000 people), while Asians are more sensitive to this disease (25.6 cases per 100,000) as well as people from Hawaii and the Pacific Islands (with a prevalence of 15.9 cases per 100,000).
A Silent Disease
TB is a contagious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (a bacteria that usually infects the lungs and can also affect any other body part) and spread through the air, from one person to another, through sneezing or cough, or simply when someone that has the disease speaks or sings.
Having the infection doesn’t mean being ill, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are two types of TB: latent and active. The first condition is different from the second because the body is capable of fighting bacteria and stopping the infection. People with this “latent” condition may not notice the infection unless they perform a blood or skin test, since they don’t present any symptoms.
Those who are ill may have long colds that last up to three weeks, with chest pain, coughing blood, weakness or fatigue, weight loss, poor appetite, fever, night sweats, and chills.
Strengthening the Immune System
Adult patients with TB often have poor nutrition, especially protein deficient, explain Dr. J. Daryl Thornton, Assistant Professor of the Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Critical Care, and Sleep medicine of the Case Western Reserve University, and Allan B. Chiunda, Senior Analyst and Project Director of the Research Unit of Tuberculosis of the same institution.
“Protein deficiency may have a particular effect on the body’s ability to fight TB. Also, before the use of antibiotics to treat TB, cod liver oil was indicated. Studies suggest it can help fight the disease by strengthening the immune system.
"The deficiency in protein may have a particular effect on the body's ability to fight TB. Also, before you begin to use antibiotics to treat tuberculosis, indicated cod liver oil. Studies suggest it can help fight the disease by improving the immune system,” they explain in their paper “Diet Tips for Patients with TB,” published in www.netwellness.org.
Among the recommendations of the experts are:
• Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, maintaining an adequate intake of calories to promote a healthy weight. For a meal plan of 2,000 calories per day, eat two cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables.
• When choosing fruits and vegetables, try to vary among the different subgroups: dark green, orange, legumes, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables, several times a week.
• Eat 3 oz or 85 grams a day of whole grains. This will help prevent chronic diseases.
• Try to have less than 10% of your total calories from saturated fat and less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day.
• Minimize your consumption of saturated fat.
• Choose lean meats, poultry, dry legumes, and low-fat dairies.
• Cook food in the oven or grill.
• Eat various high-protein foods, like fish, legumes, peas, beans, nuts, and seeds.
• Eat less than 2,300 mg of potassium per day (equivalent to one teaspoon).
• Avoid adding salt while cooking and choose low-sodium foods.
With a plan to strengthen your immune system and an adequate treatment, your body will be in the best condition to fight TB.
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