As globally more people are getting the COVID-19 vaccine, it is also important to remember to accommodate it with a proper diet. Some vaccines are known to cause some possible side effects such as fever, headache, fatigue, and a number of others. This requires eating the right type of meals and also avoiding others that could worsen the side effects. However, it should be noted that there are no current food requirements for anyone that is taking a COVID-19 vaccine. This article is merely a helpful guide.
The first type of food that we could incorporate into our diet is anti-inflammatory foods. Foods that can lessen inflammation can help our immune system work better. "A healthy diet that is maintained long-term can improve immune response and help us fight infections better and perhaps boost the immune response to vaccination, but it's doubtful that eating differently on the morning of the vaccine will have any impact at all on vaccine responsiveness," says Dr. Louis Malinow, M.D., internal medicine physician and medical advisor to Persona Nutrition. Some examples of anti-inflammatory foods are fish, nuts, green-leafed veggies, and fresh fruits. Foods that are inflammatory like processed foods, vegetable oil, and some others should be avoided.
Next, is to avoid taking the vaccine with an empty stomach. Fasting on the day of taking the vaccine should also be avoided. It could make us dizzy and even faint.
Water is important. Being properly hydrated is always important as the body would function a lot better. Water is important in order for our immune system to respond properly and produce the required antibodies. It is also recommended to follow the sunnah of drinking while sitting down.
Getting a good night's sleep is also very important. We could also take a midday nap as it is sunnah. A proper amount of sleep is always important for our health. It is especially important when taking a vaccine since a lack of sleep could jeopardize our immune system. Getting an adequate amount of sleep the night prior to vaccination is critical and probably more important than anything consumed that morning. One bad night's sleep can diminish immune function by as much as 70%," says Dr. Malinow.
Avoid overeating. In the Quran Allah (SWT) says: “Eat and drink but avoid excess” (Quran, 20:81). This also applies when getting a vaccination as an excess amount of food can shock and weaken our body. Under-eating is also detrimental, a balanced meal is a way to go for a strong body.
Exercise is recommended only for those who are capable. Exercising is one way of taking care of our body as a fit body is much healthier. Aisha (RA) said that "I raced with the Prophet and I beat him. Later, when I had put on some weight, we raced again and he won. Then he said, 'This cancels that (referring to the previous race).' " (Sahih Bukhari). This hadith highlighted that our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) encourages physical activity. However, as one of the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine is fatigue, it should be avoided for anyone who might be at risk.
It is always important to practice a great balanced diet. Even when not taking a vaccine, we should always be aware of the type of food that we eat and the ones we should avoid or eat in moderation. Great health is important for our daily activities and to perform ibadah.
Mohamad Iman Mohamad Razali is a student at the Islamic Science University of Malaysia.