STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Worried that you’ll feel under the weather after receiving the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine?
If you want some degree of control, pay attention to your diet, since the foods you eat play a key role in your recovery, nutrition experts say.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some vaccine patients experience side effects for a few hours after taking the vaccine, including fever, chills, tiredness and a headache.
After being vaccinated, your body is busy building an immune response to fight infection. And eating a very well-balanced diet — high in protein, vitamins and minerals — will keep it strong and aid recovery, said Maria Falzone, the clinical nutrition manager of the food and nutrition department at Richmond University Medical Center.
“If we eat fruits and vegetables, the vitamins and minerals in those foods will protect the immune system,’’ Falzone said. “The antioxidants in the fruits and vegetables and healthy diet protect the immune cells from being damaged.’’
Staying well hydrated before and after vaccination is also critical, Falzone said, so plan to drink and eat accordingly. “A minimum of eight glasses of water a day,’’ she said, noting that four regular-sized water bottles is a good daily goal.
A good old-fashioned bowl of chicken soup is the ideal post-vaccination meal, she said, because the body gets the liquid it needs — kicked up a notch from the vegetables stewing in it.
“When we make soup, we’re not discarding the water,’’ she said. “In a soup, the vitamins and minerals stay in the liquid. Chicken is a protein. Carrots are high in beta carotene and onions have antioxidants.”
Those who don’t have a post-vaccine appetite should focus on sipping soup or even plain water, she said. “Hydration is most important, even a few sips of water. Soup is even better.’’
Eating well before receiving the vaccine will also go a long way toward a good post-shot experience, Falzone said. And maintaining a healthy weight and staying physically active helps protect against contracting the virus, she said.
“If they’re fairly well-nourished before the shot, they will be able to sustain or deal with any kind of reaction they may have,’’ Falzone said. “Before, during and after. It’s all about good nutrition and keeping your immune system strong.’’
And when it comes to getting good nutrition, look to fresh — or even frozen — fruits and vegetables, instead of relying on supplements, she said, because of the added benefit they bring — fiber.
“I think everyone is looking for a magic pill,’’ she said. “But that is not the answer. I’m going to promote that you eat citrus fruits, high in vitamin C, and not just take a pill. Fiber is like a brush for the intestines. It naturally cleans the intestines, keeping us healthier.’’