Essential dietary tips to help you on your way to recovery from dengue fever.

There is the ever-present worry about getting dengue fever in hot and wet Singapore with the number of dengue cases expected to increase dramatically this year compared to previously. This is exacerbated, no doubt, by the warning banners, advertisements and collaterals distributed island-wide on dengue fever and how to prevent it. The fear isn’t entirely without basis; after all it is a debilitating disease which currently has no known cure or vaccine. Those who are lucky enough to survive dengue take anything between 10 days to three weeks to fully recover.

Dengue fever — which is transmitted to humans by the Aedes aegypti mosquito — is not dangerous in and of itself. It is the complications from the subsequent lowered immune system that can be problematic and have fatal consequences, especially for those with underdeveloped or compromised immune systems such as children and the elderly.

In order to fight the virus, the body’s immune system needs to be bolstered. Officially, there isn’t a set prescribed diet dengue sufferers. Doctors however recommend that dengue patients take food that is easily digestible so as to not stress the liver which takes a beating when one is suffering from dengue.

Here’s our suggestion on what to add into your diet to help your body cope with dengue fever.

What: Water

Why: To flush toxins and counter significant water loss from fever

Staying hydrated is important since sweating from fevers can lead to significant water loss. Water aids the liver in its recovery, helps with flushing out toxins from the body and eases headaches, body aches and cramps that dengue sufferers tend to experience. You should also keep off dehydrating beverages such as coffee and tea and even alcohol; which should not be difficult to do when suffering from dengue as hydrating yourself regularly is often strenuous enough and you will be in no mood for having a tipple.

What: Papaya Leaves

Why: To increase platelet count which increases your immunity

Many people think of the papaya leaf juice as an old wives’ remedy. However recent studies have found that the leaves help to increase platelet count which in turn boosts your immune system. It also assists with blood clotting, liver functions and repairing liver damage. When making the juice, it’s important to use leaves that are not too old or too young and to use the leaves only, without the stalk. Crush the leaves with a mortar and pestle without any added water, salt or sugar. Once the leaves are crushed, hand-squeeze the juice into a glass and drink twice a day. The recommended dosage is 10ml for adults and 5ml for children between five and 12. Children younger than five are recommended to take a dosage no more than 2.5ml.

What: Oranges

Why: Reduces inflammation and helps with internal bleeding

The citrus fruit can help to bolster the immune system and also aids digestion and increases the rate at which toxins are released from the body. Vitamin C can also improve blood clotting and counter internal bleeding, a well-known complication from dengue fever. Additionally, vitamin C assists with the creation of collagen which promotes the creation of antibodies and aids cellular repair.

Ginger Tea

Why: Relieves nausea and reduce vomiting

Not only will your appetite take a beating when you have dengue, keeping food down can be challenging. Ginger is well known for its ability to relieve nausea and fight vomiting. An appetite stimulant, ginger is also very good for improving blood circulation, boosting the immunity, improving stomach performance and detoxifying the liver. If you aren’t a fan of the ginger flavour, you can add honey, lemon or peppermint to your infusion to mask the taste.

What: Protein rich foods

Why: Repairs muscle

Many dengue sufferers lose weight in the course of their illness and some of the weight loss is attributed to muscle loss. Easily digestible proteins are best in assisting your body in maintaining and repairing muscle tissue while recovering from dengue; you don’t want to stress your liver with complex proteins that it will have difficulty breaking down. Protein can also help you to recover after the worst of the illness has passed by helping you normalise your nutrient absorption and restoring minerals that were lost. Egg whites, milks, yoghurt, cheese, tofu and bean curds are easy to digest and high in protein. Lentils, chicken and tuna can be taken with porridge as an easily digestible alternative.