Saturday, 14 September 2013


Malaria is a disease caused by a mosquito-borne parasite. Those who have malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Untreated, those with malaria may develop severe complications and die.


 A good diet ensures that the body is not put under unnecessary duress. During this time of illness, the patient’s body is weak and the the antibiotics administered for treatment can further weaken the body. Hence, malaria diet should focus on strengthening the patient’s immune system without putting too much stress on the liver, kidneys, and digestive system as a whole.

Diet Plan:

  • Phase 1: Once diagnosed with malaria, the patient can be put on an orange juice diet. This is recommended especially if the patient has high fever. In most cases, this fever lasts for a week to ten days.
  • Phase 2: The next phase of the diet plan involves eating only fruit. During this phase, the patient should be given a healthy serving of fresh fruits. Some of the fruits to include are pineapples, papayas, oranges, grapes, apples, 
    grapefruits, and mangoes. Keep in mind that the fruit diet should not last for more than three days. The patient can be given milk on the third day of the fruit diet as milk contains proteins and fats that are needed by the body.
  • Phase 3: During the convalescing period, the patient can be given a well-balanced diet consisting of not only fruits but also vegetables, whole grains, and nuts (other than groundnuts and other oil-rich nuts). Here’s a basic plan for this period:
  1. In the morning: The patient can be given a glass of lemon juice, preferably lukewarm. Honey can be added to sweeten the drink.
  2. For breakfast: A bowl of fresh fruits along with a glass of milk is recommended.
  3. Lunch: Lunch should include steamed vegetables and if the patient is hungry, one or two whole grain tortillas can be given. Buttermilk is a good drink to wash the food down.
  4. Mid-day meal: A glass of vegetable or fresh fruit juice.
  5. For dinner: Dinner can include homemade cottage cheese, sprouts and a bowl of salad made with fresh green vegetables and some lime juice dressing.
While this is a recommended diet plan for malaria patients, it is best to always consult your doctor before making any drastic dietary changes. Patients with other underlying conditions like diabetes or existing heart and liver disorders may require special diets. They should not follow this diet without consulting a doctor.

Foods that need to be avoided when one has malaria include:
  • Alcohol, tea, coffee, and other caffeinated beverages. Refined and processed foods, including white flour, cakes, and pastries.
  • Meat, sauces, pickles, and other condiments should also be avoided.

Foods After Malaria:

A light diet consisting of vegetables, poultry, fish and may be a little red meat is recommended, as it provides the necessary protein for the body to repair itself. Include plenty of green vegetables, whole grains, rice, and iron-rich foods as they are considered good for malaria patients. During recovery, a malaria patient tends to lose his/her appetite, so attention should be given to provide as much variety as possible.

 Know if you are at risk. Anyone can get malaria. The following is a list of factors that may put you at risk of contracting malaria:
  • Living in countries with malaria
  • Traveling to countries with malaria
  • Blood transfusion (rare)
  • Organ transplant (rare)
  • Sharing needles contaminated with blood
  • Being heavily exposed to the bites of mosquitoes infected with P. falciparum
Know that there is no vaccine for malaria. Malaria can be treated with prescription drugs. The type of drugs and length of treatment depend on the following:
  • Type of malaria
  • The victim's age
  • Where the person was infected
  • How sick the person is at the start of treatment
  • If the person is pregnant
Understand that prevention is the best cure. Travelers outside the U.S. should purchase antimalarial medication before traveling. The CDC recommended malaria drugs include:
  • atovaquone/proguanil
  • chloroquine
  • doxycycline
  • mefloquine
  • primaquine
  • Learn to recognize the symptoms of malaria. Look for the following:
    • Fever
    • Shaking chills (whenever.)
    • Headache
    • Muscle aches
    • Tiredness
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Anemia
    • Jaundice (yellow coloring of the skin and eyes)
    • Respiratory difficulties

  • Wear long-sleeved clothing.
  • When possible, avoid camping or spending prolonged amounts of time in areas where standing water is present. Keep pots and pans emptied of water. Open vessels for drinking water should be covered. Mosquitoes use areas of standing water to lay their eggs.
  • If you are traveling outside Canada, the U.S., and Western Europe, you may be at risk for contracting malaria. Become aware of malaria risk areas when planning your trip outside these countries and take the needed precautions.
  • If possible, stay in screened quarters or quarters with air conditioning.
  • Apply insect repellent to your skin. The US Center for Disease Control recommends the following repellents:

    • DEET
    • Picaridin
    • Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD
    • IR3535

  • When choosing insect repellents, look for products with higher percentages of the active repellent ingredient for longer durations. For example a 10% DEET formula may only protect you for 1-2 hours. On the other hand, studies have shown that DEET concentration efficacy tops out at 50% and concentrations above that number offer no increase in duration.
  • The mosquito that transmits malaria attacks at night. Try to plan activities that permit you to be in protected areas between dusk and dawn.
  • Use insecticides and flying insect sprays to reduce the number of mosquitoes in areas where you will be spending a significant amount of time.
  • Use bednets when sleeping in areas infested with mosquitoes.
  •  Infection with Plasmodium falciparum (one type of malaria) if not promptly treated, may cause seizures, mental confusion, kidney failure, coma, and death.
  • Purchase your antimalarial drugs before you travel overseas. People in countries that are at high risk for malaria have been known to sell "fake" or substandard drugs to travelers.

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