Leprosy, Hansen’s Disease, poor man’s disease, the separating sickness…
Updated: Apr 20
call it what you want…
but we will show you...
you don’t want to CALL IT LATE for dinner!
According to the World Health Organization, around 208,000 people have leprosy worldwide with most cases in Asia and Africa.
Leprosy remains a public health crisis in underdeveloped nations, also known as poor man’s disease, this chronic condition affects the skin and nerves. This disease can cause skin lesions, nerve damage, and muscle weakness.
While leprosy is treatable with a combination of antibiotics, proper nutrition plays a crucial role in managing the symptoms of Leprosy, aka Hansen’s Disease.
“Food and its availability is a significant factor for leprosy prevention and management.” (Uniyal, 2023)
Below, we will walk-through the different benefits proper nutrition brings to an individual afflicted with this chronic condition – including but certainly not limited to: maintaining a strong immune system, proper functioning of the nerves and management of the accompanying symptoms.
Maintains a Strong Immune System
Good nutrition is essential for maintaining a strong immune system, which is crucial in preventing infections and managing the symptoms of leprosy. “The body’s immune system… needs proteins, vitamins, and minerals to effectively fight off infections. We conclude that people who are living in poverty and who are not able to get an adequate, diverse diet have a higher chance of developing leprosy.” (Wageneer, 2015)
A well-balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can help support the immune system and keep it functioning at its best.
"Supplementation of Vitamin A, C, D, E, B12 and minerals like zinc, magnesium and selenium is important to strengthen the immunity response which further helps to improve the quality of life," says Prachi Jain, HOD- Nutrition & Dietetics, CK Birla Hospital Gurgaon.
Nutrition and the Nerves
Proper nutrition is essential for the proper functioning of nerves, which can be affected by leprosy. Leprosy is caused by a bacterial infection that damages the nerves and can lead to numbness, loss of sensation, and muscle weakness.
When the nerves are damaged, the body's ability to transmit messages between the brain and other parts of the body is compromised. This can lead to a range of symptoms, such as loss of sensation, tingling or burning sensations, and muscle weakness.
Proper nutrition - more specifically - B-vitamins are essential for maintaining nerve health and preventing nerve damage. These vitamins help to produce and repair myelin, a fatty substance that surrounds and protects the nerves. Myelin is crucial for the proper transmission of nerve impulses, and damage to this protective layer can lead to nerve dysfunction and damage.
Managing symptoms of Leprosy
A well-balanced diet can help manage the symptoms of leprosy, such as fatigue, muscle weakness, and skin lesions. A diet high in fiber and low in fat can also help regulate the digestive system and prevent constipation, which can be a common problem for those with leprosy.
Constipation is a common symptom of leprosy due to the damage that the disease can cause to the nerves that control the digestive system. A diet that is high in fiber can help promote regular bowel movements and prevent constipation. Good sources of fiber include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. On the other hand, a diet that is high in fat can slow down the digestive system and exacerbate constipation.
In addition to managing digestive symptoms, a well-balanced diet can also help manage other symptoms of leprosy. For example, muscle weakness and fatigue can be managed with a diet that is high in protein, which is essential for maintaining muscle mass and strength. Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, poultry, beans, lentils, and dairy products.
Skin lesions, another common symptom of leprosy, can also be managed with proper nutrition. A diet that is high in antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, can help promote skin health and support wound healing.
Proper nutrition is an essential component of managing leprosy.
A well-balanced diet can help boost immunity, improve wound healing, maintain muscle strength, support nerve function, and manage the symptoms of the disease.
"My friends, take heed and don't be caught calling leprosy late for dinner. It is settled, proper nutrition is a crucial weapon in the fight against this cruel affliction."
- Boing the Ostrich, informing with Focus and Purpose, signing off.
The Happy Bar Nutrition Team
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