In Nigeria, any adult over the age of 18 is eligible to get COVID-19 vaccination.
However, experts warn that there are salient things you need to know when it comes to how food interacts with medicines!
Researchers at Blanchard Valley Health System warn that food can prevent medicine from working the way it should and can cause medicinal side effects to become better or worse, and/or cause new side effects to occur. “Drugs can also change the way the body uses food,” they say.
A study published online by the National Institutes of Health in the Oman Medical Journal last March notes that, regarding food-drug interactions, physicians and pharmacists recognise that some foods and drugs, when taken simultaneously, can alter the body’s ability to utilise a particular food or drug, or cause serious side effects.
Clinically significant drug interactions, which pose potential harm to the patient, may result from changes in pharmaceutical, pharmacokinetic, or pharmacodynamic properties, experts say.
“Some may be taken advantage of, to the benefit of patients, but more commonly, drug interactions result in adverse drug events.
“Therefore, it is advisable for patients to follow the physician and doctors instructions to obtain maximum benefits with least food-drug interactions,” said lead author, Rabia Bushra, of the College of Pharmacy, Ziauddin College of Pharmacy, Ziauddin University, Karachi, Pakistan.
Dieticians say that eating a healthy diet and drinking lots of fluids make you feel better, and will prepare you for any vaccine whatsoever, including the COVID-19 vaccine.
Foods rich in fibre are crucial for a relaxed body and a powered up immune system, they say. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine advises that you avoid eating saturated fats and sugary foods that may lead to stress and anxiety and cause more disturbed sleep.
Nutritionists say that eating fibre-rich foods instead of saturated fat and sugary foods will help a lot in sustaining you after your COVID-19 vaccination.
Nigerian foods that are rich in fibre include: black beans, avocado, wheat swallow, tuwo masara, tuwo shinkafa, ugwu leaf, all Nigerian soups—including ogbono, egusi, banga, afang, etc; yam, pounded yam, cocoyam, fufu, eba, abacha, roasted or cooked corn, all fruits, bitter leaf soup, ewedu soup, sweet or irish potatoes, plantain, banana, rice, millet, sorghum, nkwobi, semovita/semolina, amala (white/black), ofada/Abakaliki rice, plantain porridge, whole-grain spaghetti, etc.
Registered dietitians agree that being well-hydrated, eating the right foods, and being well-rested help boost your immune system.
“Staying hydrated is key to good health, especially when you are getting your COVID vaccination. You must re-energise yourself with plenty of water or hydrating fruits, which can minimise the risk of developing severe side effects and help you feel better through the course of the vaccine,” they counsel.
Online health platform, Family Doctor, states that most healthy people can stay well hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty. “For some people, fewer than eight glasses may be enough. Other people may need more than eight glasses each day. And while plain water is best for staying hydrated, other drinks and foods can help, too,” the platform said.
Try Mediterranean diet
Again, registered dietician Jessica Greene told CBS 46 that a Mediterranean diet is a really good one to follow about two weeks before the vaccine, because it has an anti-inflammatory effect.
The United Kingdom National Health Service states that in general, the Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.
“It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods. The Mediterranean diet has been linked with good health, including a healthier heart,” says NHS.
“Heart healthy fats, like fish or nuts, or olive, these foods, can help us, in general, feel better,” the dietitian enthused.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, while some people have minimal or no vaccine side effects, others may experience chills, tiredness, and headaches.
“Drinking ginger tea can help with nausea, and chicken noodle soup helps with dehydration…and just when you’re not feeling well,” dietician Greene said.
Eat chicken soup
Chicken soup is a soup made from chicken, simmered in water, usually with various other ingredients. Professional cooks say that the classic chicken soup consists of a clear chicken broth, often with pieces of chicken or vegetables; common additions are pasta, noodles, dumplings, or grains such as rice and barley.
Again, experts counsel that anyone taking COVID-19 vaccine should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and to avoid alcohol before and after getting the vaccine, which could intensify any side effects.
“It [alcohol] can lead to dehydration, which is what you want to try to avoid, as it can definitely make it more challenging to distinguish between the vaccine symptoms and side effects or if you had a hangover,” physicians warn.
Experts say that, post-vaccination, people experience minimal to no side effects, which can range from fever, fatigue to body ache and pain at the point of injection. While staying hydrated is crucial during this time, you must avoid alcohol, as it can cause dehydration, which may intensify vaccine side effects.
Again, a study published in the journal JAMA Network warns that alcohol consumption has been associated with weakened immunity, which is capable of reversing the benefits of taking the vaccine.
Indeed, Yale addiction specialist, Dr. Jennifer Edelma, states that, by default, alcohol makes it harder for the immune system to gear up and defend the body against harmful germs.
“Alcohol has diverse adverse effects throughout the body, including on all cells of the immune system, that lead to increased risk of serious infections,” Edelma says; adding, “In the lungs, for example, alcohol damages the immune cells and fine hairs that have the important job of clearing pathogens out of our airway.”
Continuing, shae said that, “If the cells lining a person’s airway are damaged from alcohol, then viral particles, such as COVID-19, more easily gain access, causing immune cells, which fight off infection, to not work as well, leading to increased overall risks of more severe diseases as well as complications.”
Eat whole grain foods
Eating whole grain rather than processed foods is also advised. According to nutritionists, as part of a general healthy diet, consumption of whole grains is associated with lower risk of several diseases.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition adds that healthy eating habits are vital to ensuring a healthy body during this pandemic. That is why, when you decide to take the COVID-19 vaccine, stock up on and eat healthy whole grain foods that are rich in fibre, rather than processed food that are high on saturated fat and have high amount of calories.
Experts advise that you do not compromise on your diet before and after getting the COVID vaccine. Fainting has been reported as a side effect of the vaccine, which can be minimized by eating healthy, wholesome foods. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, apart from getting some reassurance about the process, staying hydrated and eating a healthy balanced diet or a snack can prevent fainting associated with anxiety.
The Centres for Disease Control says that any side effects usually start within a day or two of getting the vaccine but should go away in a few days.
“A lot of people are reporting lethargy after the vaccine, so eating foods that can provide us energy and the nutrients we need could potentially help us to feel better,” it counselled.