Indian diet for TB patients
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First thing first, stop thinking why me? Rather let’s make a plan to handle the situation better. Eat healthily, stay at home and complete medication – are three basic but major steps absolutely necessary for your speedy recovery. You already must have heard numerous diet advice and got confused and bored. Check this step-by-step detailed guide on the Indian diet for TB patients. I hope you will get an answer to most of your doubts.

Gone are days when TB used to happen to people with malnutrition staying in congested, unhealthy environments. Now in 2022, there may be multiple factors to get affected by TB, including compromised immunity, staying too long in air-conditioning, substance abuse, excessive smoking, staying long in poorly ventilated rooms, etc.

Statistics suggest that one-fourth of the global population is infected with TB with no symptoms (latent TB).  (1)(2) So you really don’t know where it may come from.

Tuberculosis infection makes you weak. It leads to –

  • lower appetite
  • malabsorption of nutrients
  • malabsorption of micronutrient
  • altered metabolism leading to wasting (3)
Indian diet for TB patient -  eat good food
Eat good, wholesome, and nutritious food – try a fruit smoothie.

This blog is going to guide you through these 6 steps to make your diet balanced and doable for the long TB treatment –

Step 1: Consume high-energy food

Step 2: Focus on good carbs

Step 3: Take high-protein food

Step 4: Invest in good fat

Step 5: Ensure taking ample vegetables and minerals

Step 6: Follow a few quick tips

Indian diet for TB patients Step 1: Consume high-energy food

Indian diet for tb patients -  try energy dense food
Homemade laddu or chikki is the best energy-dense food

What does it mean? Can you have all possible calorie-loaded burgers, pizza, dessert, fries, drinks,s, etc? Not really, these will give you empty-calorie without any nutrients. You need good wholesome food to fulfill the high demand for energy as well as nutrition in the body.

The total calorie requirement generally depends on your height, weight, age, physical activity level, and current health condition. Therefore it varies from person to person.

It is evident that most TB patient consumes insufficient food compared to their actual requirement. (7)(8)

Follow the table 1 to add nutrition along with energy to the diet –

Table 1: Pick the right high-energy food

High Energy nutritious foods to includeHigh energy zero nutrition foods to avoid
Khichri with ghee
Oats banana smoothie with nuts and seeds
Vegetable – dal /bean stew with semi-polished rice
Ragi- banana- nuts porridge
Fruits with peanut butter
Nuts and seeds chikki/ laddu
Dalma with rice & ghee  
Fry/ chips
Packaged fruit juice/ soft drinks
Instant pasta/ noodles/ oats/popcorn
Ultra-processed ready to eat or ready-to-cook food
Biscuits, cookies
Namkeen, bhujia
Deep-fried foods
Fast foods

Indian diet for TB patients Step 2: Focus on good carbs

Try khichri as a wholesome food
Try khichri as a wholesome food for TB patients

Our digestion capacity depends on the climate and season we are in. As per Indian dietary guidelines, almost 50-60% of your daily energy must come from carbohydrates. For tropical weather like India, a carbohydrate-based diet generally works the best.

Choosing the right carbohydrate is important. Whole grain cereals are the best choice as they are rich in fiber and other micronutrients. However, the fiber content of the diet must depend on the health of the person.

A high fiber diet often backfires with chronic flatulence, bloating, and mal-absorption of micronutrients. If you are experiencing these issues, you must check your fiber intake. Follow the table 2 below to choose the best carbs –

Table 2: Best carbs for pick for TB patients

Best carbs for regular consumptionCarbs to have 3-4 times a weekCarbs to avoid
Semi polished rice
Whole wheat flour
Wheat puff
Brown rice
Refined flour and its products eg
cookies, biscuits, baked items, etc    

Indian diet for TB patients Step 3: Take high-protein food

Indian diet for tb patients -  protein is important
Dal is a great source of protein

You may feel lethargic and have no intention to eat or drink while fighting with TB. However, you must push yourself to consume high-protein food for early recovery.

If you are a vegetarian, focus on having a variety of pulses in a week. Try to take two bowls of dal on daily basis for lunch and dinner. You may consider having sprouts, and beans also.  Don’t forget to soak dal overnight, wash it well and then cook properly. This will help to keep bloating, and flatulence in control.  

If you can tolerate milk and milk products, feel free to add a glass of milk either in the form of chena, paneer, or curd whatever suits you. If you are a milk fan, just drink it.

Fish, egg, chicken, and lean meat are excellent choices for non-vegetarians. Consider having a whole egg a day. Having a good portion of fish or 3-4 pieces of chicken or, having 2-3 pieces of mutton once in a while is safe.

Remember to add only one protein-rich food to a meal. For eg- if you are having an egg for breakfast, you may consume a cup of buttermilk in the midmorning, and then fish at lunch, sprouts for an evening snack, and maybe a small bowl of dal for dinner. But try to avoid 2-3 protein-rich food in one particular meal. This will help you to digest food better.

Check the table 3 below for your protein choices –

Table 3: Choose your protein right

Indulge withAvoid
Dal/rajma/ chole/ chana
Sattu / besan
Curd, buttermilk
Paneer/ chena
Chicken/ lean meat 
Packaged ready-to-eat/ cook cold cuts
Chicken nuggets etc

Indian diet for TB patients Step 4: Invest in good fat

Indian diet for TB patients -  nuts are important
A handful of nuts are not only a good source of fat but also a great source of protein.

Usage of good fat in your diet will help you in multiple ways –

  • It will boost the calorie value of your diet
  • Help to absorb fat-soluble vitamins better
  • It will make food tempting and may help you to eat more

Now, this does not allow your to eat loads of fried food a day. Your body is weak, so it won’t be able to process such a fat load. So try to focus on the quality of fat rather than the quantity.

Try to avoid colorless, odorless white vegetable refined oil for regular cooking. Please note that these are inflammatory in nature which also hampers the balance of omega3 and omega-6 fatty acid ratios in the diet.  

Also, avoid foods containing hydrogenated fat which includes all possible ultra-processed ready-to-eat/ready-to-cook food available in the market. Trans fat is created during the hydrogenation of oil, which makes the food extremely unhealthy.

Table 4: Find the right fat

Good fatBad fat
Cold-pressed oil
Double filtered oil
Kachhi Ghani oil
Homemade butter
Nuts and seeds
Refined oil
Products contain hydrogenated oil –  biscuits, cookies, baked products, or any ultra-processed foods

Add a tsp of ghee to your lunch and dinner. Try to have a handful of soaked nuts and seeds every day.

Indian diet for TB patients Step 5:  Ensure taking ample vegetables and minerals

Amla the best source of vitamin C for TB patients
Amla has the .highest vitamin C, very important for the speedy recovery of TB patients.

Vitamins like B complex, A, C, E, and D, minerals like zinc, selenium, calcium, potassium, iron, etc play a crucial role in the recovery from TB. Therefore you must ensure the supply of all these micronutrients on daily basis. (4)

Make sure to drink a cup of vegetable- fruit juice (carrot- orange or beetroot –pomegranate, etc) to supply all the essential nutrients. Add cooked vegetables as well as a raw salad to the daily diet.

Do not forget to add 2 fruits a day as per the season – one citrus fruit(rich in vitamin C) like amla, orange, mosambi, grapefruit, etc, and another orange or purple or white fruit – papaya, mango, jamun, banana, watermelon, etc. A study suggests that an ample supply of vitamin C can shorten TB treatment. (5)

 Remember variety is the key to your diet. Therefore try to have a variety of vegetables and fruits as per the local availability.

Don’t drink the packaged fruit or vegetable juices as they are loaded with sugar and preservatives. Have trust in fresh fruits and vegetables. Wash them well and consume them.

Indian diet for TB patients Step 6:  Follow these tips

Fried food is better to avoid for tb patients
Avoid deep-fried food
  • Don’t forget to drink a lot of water
  • Don’t stuff yourself rather eat a small frequent meal for better nutrition
  • Add one energy-dense food to the major meal – like nuts with breakfast, ghee with lunch, and dinner.
  • If health permits, try to do little exercise but don’t strain yourself. You may go for walk. (6)
  • Complete your medication course
  • Stay away from alcohol, soft drinks, energy drinks, etc.
  • Don’t drink more than a cup of tea/ coffee in a day if you are absolutely addicted to it.
  • Try herbal tea, green tea, or a healthy drink instead
  • You must avoid excess sugar and trans fat in your diet which means you got to avoid all possible types of ultra-processed food
  • Avoid oily, greasy food.
  • Bring variety in all categories of food and eat in moderation

Bottom line

You don’t need any fancy food to get recovered from TB. Simple mindful eating is enough. Follow the step-by-step guide on the Indian diet for TB patients. Please note you may have multiple other health issues along with TB, in that case, consult a nutritionist for better planning of your diet. You will be fine.

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Dr. Soma Chakrabarty is based in Hyderabad. She has 15 yrs of working experience in nutrition. She guides people to modify eating behavior and achieve goals for wellness. She believes in a practical diet that helps people to live rather than survive.

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  • DrRavi Kiran , 15th December 2022 @ 3:59 pm

    Thank you for sharing very good diet for TB infected people. Food which increases immunity is very much essential.

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