Dietary Tips for Tuberculosis Patients

Dietary Tips for Tuberculosis Patients Health & Fitness

Malnutrition is well known among adults with tuberculosis. Protein deficiency may have a particular detrimental effect on the ability of the body to fight tuberculosis. Multiple micronutrient deficiencies are also common during tuberculosis. Before antibiotics were used to treat tuberculosis, cod liver oil was a mainstay. Studies suggest that the Vitamin A found in cod liver oil may have helped treat the disease by boosting the immune systems response to the bacteria.

It is important to consume a balanced diet to provide your body with the nutrients that you need to fight tuberculosis. It particularly is important to avoid consuming any alcohol during the entire course of your treatment as this could result in treatment complications and side effects.

Weight gain generally improves during appropriate tuberculosis treatment and appropriate nutritional supplementation. However, persons who complete treatment are at risk of losing weight that was gained.

Recommendations For a Balanced Diet

Some tips for a balanced diet are listed below. For assistance, please consult a registered dietician for a diet tailored to your needs.

  • Consume an adequate amount of fruit and vegetables but stay within the correct calorie level for a healthy weight. On a 2000-calorie diet, eat 2 cups of fruit and 2 and a half cups of vegetables per day. Eat more or less according to your calorie needs.
  • Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables each day. Choose from all five vegetable sub-groups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables) several times a week.
  • Consume 3 or more ounce-equivalents of whole-grain foods each day, with the rest of the recommended grains coming from enriched or whole-grain products. At least half your grains should come from whole grains. Eating at least 3 ounce-equivalents of whole grains per day can reduce the risk of heart disease, may help with weight maintenance, and will lower your health risk for other chronic diseases.
  • Consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products. Adults and children can consume milk and milk products without worrying that these foods lead to weight gain. There are many fat-free and low-fat choices without added sugars that are available and consistent with an overall healthy dietary plan. If a person has difficulty drinking milk, ...choose alternatives within the milk food group, such as yogurt or lactose-free milk, or consume the enzyme lactase prior to the consumption of milk products. For people who must avoid all milk products (e.g. individuals with lactose intolerance, vegans), non-dairy calcium-containing alternatives may be chosen to help meet calcium needs. 


Dietary Fat

- Eat less than ten percent of calories from saturated fats and less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and eat as few trans-fats (hydrogenated fat) as possible.
- Maintain your total intake of fats/oils at between 20-35 percent of calories, with most fat coming from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, such as oily fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
- Regarding meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, choose lean, low-fat, or fat-free options.


- Eat fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as often as possible.
- Consume foods and drinks with little added sugars or caloric sweeteners.


While not directly addressing the issue of protein, The Dietary Guidelines For Americans say, "While protein is an important macronutrient in the diet, most Americans are already currently consuming enough and do not need to increase their intake. As such, protein consumption, while important for nutrient adequacy, is not a focus of this document." However, they do recommend you to choose foods that contain lean protein, stating:

- Eat lean meats and poultry.
- Bake, broil, or grill food.
- Eat a variety of protein rich foods, with more fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.

Sodium and Potassium

- Eat less than 2,300 mg (approximately 1 teaspoon of salt) of sodium per day.
- Choose low-sodium foods, and do not add salt when cooking. Also, eat potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.