Heavens forbid! But, think dengue if you ever find yourself any of the following symptoms (1):
- Sudden onset of high fever
- Pain behind the eyes
- Extreme fatigue
- Joint and muscle pain
- Vomiting, and skin rashes.
The joint pain is a hallmark of this viral fever. So severe is the pain that the fever is termed ‘breakbone fever’ for the joint and muscle pain that it causes.
In some cases, when it is accompanied by bleeding from nose, gums, or from under the skin, it is termed as dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Dengue, like all other viral ailments, has no specific line of medication. Antipyretics to lower body temperature and analgesics to manage pain are the suggested medications to effectively cope with the symptoms.
Let Food be Your Medicine and Medicine Be Your Food
However, taking the right kind of food is the most suitable prescription for a speedy recovery from the ailment.
Food rich in certain nutrients may alleviate the symptoms as they help to:
- Boost immunity
- Increase the depleted platelet count
- Alleviate joint and muscle pain
Foods To Eat During Dengue Fever:
So, while we always hope that you stay protected from the dreaded fever nevertheless if you ever find yourself or a dear one suffering from it, here are some food items that can work wonders in managing the symptoms.
These have been tried and tested by researchers, and by those who suffered the ailment. They are valuable in getting the patient back to normal life after a bout of the illness.
1. Papaya Leaf Extract
Dengue is characterized by thrombocytopenia, lowering of blood platelet count.
Research suggests that the papaya plant has properties that can boost the depleting platelet count.
This can be attributed to the membrane-stabilizing properties of the leaf-extract (2). It protects the blood cells against stress-induced destruction.
Thus, the leaf extracts could prevent platelet-lysis and prevent a further decrease in the number of platelets (3).
2. The Wonder Herb – Giloy
Giloy, Guduchi, Amrita, Shindil, or address it by any other name; the herb is known to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-pyretic properties like no other herb.
What this essentially means is that the herb has a dual-action. Not only is the herb effective in regulating body temperature but is also effective in alleviating joint pain that causes immense suffering in the patients (4, 5, 6).
In a recent study (7), conducted on a dengue patient in India, a diet exclusively composed of fruit juices was found to have a remarkable impact on the blood parameters.
Pomegranate was one of the fruits that were included in the fruit juice diet. It was found to be efficacious in restoring the platelet and leukocyte count.
4. Coconut Water
In the same study (7), coconut water was also found to have a role in regaining health and reducing the dengue induced symptoms in the patient.
This is only obvious considering the high amounts of potassium, vitamins, and other nutrients that coconut water is rich in (8).
This helps to balance out the loss in electrolytes due to dehydration that follows dengue fever.
5. Citrus Fruits
No points for guessing that, vitamin C plays a vital role in not only building the body’s defense mechanism but also in repair and renewal of body tissues.
As a result, citrus fruits and their juice are found to be of great benefit in dengue management.
In the study cited above, sweet lime (Mosambi) juice was one of the juices administered to the dengue patient.
The exclusively liquid diet helped the patient regain health within 48 hours without any modern medicine to support the diet.
Orange, tangerine, and gooseberries are some of the other citrus fruits found to help regain health after the bone break fever.
As is evident from the discussion so far, there are no virucidal medicines or vaccination available for dengue treatment or prevention.
The ailment can only be prevented or, managed through diet.
While some foods help in rebuilding health post-dengue owing to their nutritional content, others must be avoided to hasten up repair.
Foods to Avoid During Dengue Fever
Since the body is undergoing a phase of massive repair, it is of paramount importance that the food you eat should put the least strain on the system in terms of energy expenditure while also supporting repair and renewal.
All kinds of oily and fried food, food high in spices that can cause acid-build up in the stomach should be avoided.
Also, caffeinated beverages that increase heart rate, and non-vegetarian food that is difficult to digest must be avoided under all circumstances (9).
In short, a diet high on fluids, anti-oxidants, and natural foods can put you on the faster route to recovery from dengue while those that are harder to digest impede the repair and renewal process.