Foods to Avoid If Diagnosed With Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis has been a feared disease for much of mankind's history. Caused by a bacteria, TB was mostly wiped out in the United States by the late 20th century. It made a comeback starting in 1985 because AIDS patients were more susceptible. Treatment has helped rates decline since then.

Avoid foods such as fried chicken and french fries if you have tuberculosis. Credit: villagemoon/iStock/GettyImages

Tuberculosis Food to Avoid

If you have tuberculosis, there is not a specific tuberculosis food to avoid, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). You may need to avoid alcohol while you're taking any TB medicine, says MyHealth.Alberta.Ca, and let your doctor know what medicines you're taking.

One of the drugs commonly used to treat tuberculosis, or TB as it's called, is isoniazid. According to Medline Plus, isoniazid is an antibiotic used to treat or prevent TB. If you take this medicine, you should avoid alcohol. You also may need to avoid red wine, aged cheese, dried meats and tuna and other types of fish.

That's because they contain tyramine or histamine, according to Medline Plus. These foods can cause unhealthy reactions to the medicine. There are three other drugs commonly used to treat TB, according to the Mayo Clinic. They are:

  • Rifampin. Rifampin does not carry any dietary restrictions, says Medline Plus.
  • Ethambutol. Ethambutol also does not carry any dietary restrictions, but may cause loss of appetite or upset stomach, says Medline Plus.
  • Pyrazinamide. Pyrazinamide doesn't carry dietary restrictions, but it may cause upset stomach and vomiting, says Medline Plus.

Read More: What Are the Symptoms of Tuberculosis of the Bones?

TB, Medicine and Nutrition

When you have TB, however, it is important to eat a healthy diet, according to British Columbia's HealthLink BC. That's because TB causes weight loss and nutritional deficiencies, the WHO says. Proper nutritional care improves your nutritional recovery, and can reduce future health risks, the WHO says.

Good nutrition alone can't help you beat TB, however, the WHO says. For that, you must have the proper medicines. But being malnourished does increase the risk for TB, the WHO says. So better nutrition throughout the world would help prevent TB. If you have latent TB, eating a nutritional diet may help prevent your infection from progressing to active TB, the WHO says.

Latent TB, says the Mayo Clinic, means you have a TB infection but no symptoms. Active TB is what makes you sick. This is when your TB is contagious, and can spread through close contact.

A December 2016 article in the Journal of Tuberculosis Research showed that most of the 173 patients in India who were provided nutritional support cut their risk of unsuccessful treatment by 50 percent. These patients lived in poverty, and before treatment, ate a diet of mostly lentils and rice.

Read More: Are Bagged Salad Greens Still Safe to Eat?

What Is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis mainly affects your lungs, says the Mayo Clinic. It's caused by bacteria spread between people through tiny droplets in the air. If you are diagnosed with tuberculosis, or TB as it's called, your chances of being cured are very good if you follow your doctor's instructions. That includes following any dietary recommendations.

Treatment of TB is complex. You may not feel symptoms after a few weeks, says the Mayo Clinic. But most likely, if you have active TB, you will need to take antibiotics for six to nine months to knock out the infection. During this time, you may want to ask your doctor for a diet chart for a TB patient, or what fruits for TB patients are recommended.

That will help ensure that you are eating well, despite medications that might leave you not wanting to eat. Good nutrition will also position your body to fight off future potential infections.

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