Diet for Mononucleosis


Infectious mononucleosis is a contagious viral disease caused by the EBV virus.
About 90% of the population shows that they have already contracted the virus and have specific antibodies.
Diet for MononucleosisUpon contagion, children show less severe and evident symptoms; however, especially in adolescents and young adults, the following occur: fever, sore throat and general fatigue. Sometimes, the onset is typical for the presence of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
It is a self-limiting disease (3-4 weeks) which usually does not require any drug therapy.
Diagnosis is made on the basis of symptoms and clinical reports.

Role of the Diet

The role of diet in mononucleosis is supportive. In fact, nutrition is not a factor directly involved in healing from the infectious disease.
Mononucleosis is known to be extremely debilitating and, even after healing, does not allow the body to recover quickly. It must be remembered that a malnourished organism is NOT able to react effectively; on the contrary, a correct diet can reduce the overall recovery time.
In general, especially when mononucleosis begins with nausea, vomiting and fever, the diet must have the following characteristics:

  • Small and frequent meals
  • High digestibility
  • Wealth of water and potassium
  • Rich in essential nutrients (especially omega 3 fatty acids) and phytoelements (phenolic antioxidants, etc.)
  • Probiotic foods / supplements
  • Nutrients that can support the immune system.

Small and Frequent Meals

Greater fragmentation of the diet is an essential feature to avoid overloading the digestive system.
This can be achieved by adding some snacks or by emphasizing the nutritional importance of secondary meals. Eg:

Breakfast 15% energy Breakfast 15% energy Breakfast 15% energy
Snack I 5% energy Snack I 10% energy Snack I 5% energy
/ / Snack II 5% energy
Lunch 40% energy Lunch 30% energy Lunch 30% energy
Snack II 5% energy Snack II 10% energy Snack III 5% energy
/ / Snack VI 5% energy
Price 35% energy Price 25% energy Price 25% energy
/ Snack III 10% energy Snack III 10% energy

In practice, to fragment meals, it is sufficient to move the foods that normally make up breakfast, lunch and dinner, in the various snacks of the day. Eg:

Breakfast: Milk, Cereals, Bread and Jam, Apple Breakfast: Bread and Jam, Apple and Yogurt Breakfast: Bread and Jam
Snack I: Yogurt Snack I: Bread and Jam Snack I: Milk and Cereals
/ / Snack II: Apple and Yogurt


Digestibility must affect:

  • All meals
  • The recipes that compose them
  • The individual ingredients.

Characteristics of foods:

  • Small portions (see above)
  • Few fats, especially saturated ones; cheeses are not suitable, while lean or semi-fatty fish (anchovies, sardines, cod, etc.) and lean white meats (chicken breast, rabbit, etc.) are suitable
  • Free of indigestible parts (e.g. the skins of certain vegetables and legumes, the connective tissues of meat, etc.)
  • 30g of total fiber. Better not to overdo it or the risk would be to compromise digestion
  • Dressings limited to 1-2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil per dish; this product, if used sparingly, is able to improve the digestibility of meat and fish.
    NB. Overall, 25-30% of total calories in the form of lipids should not be exceeded.
  • Complete cooking of protein foods (meat, fish products and eggs), i.e. up to the heart of the food. Absolutely avoid: rare cooking (steak and grilled fillet), carpaccio or tartare, and cooking that is too long (stews, omelettes, soups, etc.).
  • The most suitable cooking systems are: boiling, steaming, pressure, bain-marie, vacuum-packed and in pots.

Plenty of Water

Respecting the principle of digestibility and assuming that the urge to vomit allows it, the most used foods should be rich in water and potassium. This is because, in case of diarrhea, fecal losses increase dramatically.
Among the foods rich in water we remember: milk and yogurt (in the absence of food intolerance), fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, pasta in broth, legumes in broth, purees, soups, smoothies and centrifuges.
In addition to maintaining the state of hydration, fruit and vegetables contribute to providing a lot of potassium and antioxidants useful for strengthening the immune system (both vitamins and phenolics).

Wealth of Omega 3

Omega 3s are anti-inflammatory molecules. In addition to being potentially deficient in the usual diet, it is possible that mononucleosis increases its metabolic demand. This is why the specific diet must contain: oily fish (sardines, bonito, mackerel, etc.) and some oil seeds (eg flax seeds) or their oils; if you like, edible algae are also an excellent source.


Dietary probiotics for mononucleosis are useful in case of diarrhea, thanks to their ability to:

  • Keep the intestine healthy, thanks to the production of nutrients such as short-chain fatty acids and specific polyamines
  • Intervening positively on the trophism of the immune system
  • Produce vitamins.

Support the Immune System

To support the action of the immune system, the mononucleosis diet must contain foods rich in antioxidants.
These molecules, of vitamin origin (vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E), saline (zinc and selenium) and phenolic (but not only), are necessary for cellular protection from oxidative stress.
Furthermore, vitamins C and D appear to play a vital role in the infectious response to viruses (see also: Diet for Colds).
The sources of these nutrients are:

  • Phenols, in all their variants; they abound especially in vegetables, fruit and legumes. It is such a broad category that it is impossible to summarize the main sources for each of them (berries, grapes, blueberries, other fruits, tea, propolis, etc.)
  • Carotenoids (provitamins A) abound in: carrots, melon, tomato, etc.
  • Vitamin C is mainly present: in chili peppers, parsley, citrus fruits, kiwi, apples, lettuce etc.
  • Vitamin E is very abundant in oils and oil seeds
  • Zinc and selenium abound in oilseeds and meats (with the differences between the two, depending on the product)
  • Vitamin D is mainly endogenous; it is produced in the skin from cholesterol through exposure to UV rays. However, fish products and eggs are excellent sources of this vitamin.

Other articles on 'Mononucleosis Diet'

  1. Mononucleosis - Herbal medicine
  2. Mononucleosis
  3. Medicines for the treatment of mononucleosis
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