Tips and tricks to make life a little easier – and tastier – before and after vaccination

Yoghurt with Mulberries and Almonds is rich in protein, minerals and vitamins that can raise your immunity levels and reduce inflammation. (Photo by Chusri Ngamprasert)

As more of us become eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, we are increasingly concerned about preparing, including what to eat and drink before and after we get our shots. Potential adverse side effects, we are warned, range from a sore arm to fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, nausea, and diarrhea. 

Here are the foods and drinks you may eat and those you should avoid before and after getting the shot to support your immune system and minimize symptoms.

Skip alcohol

It is advised to avoid alcohol for a few days before and after receiving the vaccine because it can cause dehydration, which can exacerbate side effects. Drinking alcohol dehydrates and stresses the immune system. Alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, but it also causes sleep disturbances and interferes with overall sleep quality and duration, which in turn can affect immune function. Even moderate alcohol consumption will leave you dehydrated and make the body aches feel worse. Drinking alcohol weakens your body’s ability to fight infections, increasing the risk of complications and making it more difficult to get better if you are sick.

 Keep hydrated

Remember to drink plenty of water – room temperature is best – a day before and a few days after getting vaccinated to prevent any side effects of the vaccine. Avoid caffeine the day you get your shot. Staying well-hydrated post-vaccination will rule out nausea and decrease your discomfort from fever. You may increase your liquid intake by having homemade soup, congee, organic tea, and juice. Snacking on juicy fruits like watermelon, dragon fruit, mango, apple, and grapes is the easiest way to increase your fluid intake.

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Get a good night’s sleep

Because our bodies use sleep to rebuild their defenses, being well-rested allows your immune system to function at its peak. Plan your meals in advance, especially for dinner, to improve your sleep quality before getting vaccinated. Choose a dinner that includes fruits, vegetables, salmon, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Avoid saturated fat and sugar from fatty meats, dairy products, and sweets because they contribute to less restorative, more disrupted sleep. It is best to eat dinner at least three hours before bedtime to allow for digestion and cut off caffeine at least six hours before bedtime.

Pick whole foods over processed foods

Inflammation can be fuelled by highly processed foods, and systemic chronic inflammation can impair normal immune function. Eating nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory whole foods is the best way to support your immune system after the vaccine. If you are at a loss for where to begin, simply remember to eat more vegetables and low-fiber fruits. Increase the number of vegetables in your lunch and dinner, add fruits to your breakfast, or make them a daily snack.

Fill your stomach beforehand

There have been reports of people fainting after getting vaccinated due to anxiety or pain. Prevent anxiety-related fainting by drinking water and eating a snack before getting vaccinated. Fainting can also be caused by low blood sugar, so consider eating a meal before your shot. Eat something that has undergone as little processing as possible, like yogurt and fruit or congee.

Easy to digest, nourishing and hydrating, Congee is a perfect pre and post-vaccine dish. (Photo by Chusri Ngamprasert)

Prepare post-vaccine foods ahead of time

Some people experience side effects such as fever and nausea for up to 48 hours after the shot. So, it is best to prepare ahead of time and stock up on easy-to-digest foods to aid recovery. Consider the foods you eat when you have the flu: soft textures, low fiber, and mildly seasoned dishes. Congee, broth-based vegetable soup, bananas, melon, coconut water, and brown rice are good choices. Heavy foods such as cheesy dishes, cream sauces, fried foods, meat and sugary foods like candy and baked goods should be avoided.

By Veena Thoopkrajae with additional report by Chusri Ngamprasert


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