So what exactly is tuberculosis?
Bad nutrition and poverty contribute greatly to the incidence of tuberculosis or TB, which is actually responsible for more deaths throughout the world than any other infectious disease. Although TB is more associated with the developing world, there is concern that the disease is also starting to come back into countries like Britain.
Partly because of vastly impoved housing and hygiene conditions, together with vaccination programs, TB in the UK declined substanially after the 1950’s. However there has recently been an upswing in the number of cases reported in England. Many of these outbreaks have been recorded in people newly arrived in the UK from countries where TB is more common. The fear of an outbreak is quite worrying as there has also been a rise in the cases of TB that are resistant to the usual drugs that are used.
A healthy diet can play an important role in preventing and treating TB, in particular eating meat and fish may be significant. Research suggest that a lack of vitamin B12, provided almost entirely by foods from animal sources, increases the risk of developing TB. Vitamin D deficiency also affects immunity to the disease.
Eating plenty of eggs, dairy foods, lean meat, oily fish, whole grains, pulses and fresh fruit and vegetables, will ensure the full complement of nutrients needed. This will aid recover and hopefully stop the disease from reoccurring.
Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The strain that causes pulmonary TB is spread through sneezing and coughing and therefore the bacterium becomes airborne.
If you are planning to travel to a country where TB is prevalent, be wary of unpasteurised dairy products as they may be infected with a bovine strain of the bacterium which can occasionally be transmitted to humans.