HIV Diet

The progression and physical symptoms of HIV disease are affected by diet. It is very important to eat HIV diet foods which enhance immune function and to avoid foods and other substances which may cause damage.

Medical treatments are more effective in a well-nourished person due to improved drug response and tolerance, and reduced risk of toxicity and adverse reactions. It is important to consult a dietitian or nutritionist knowledgeable in HIV diet as a lot of general nutrition advice is aimed at people who are overweight, and the needs of an HIV-positive person may be different.

HIV DietMalnutrition can occur early in HIV infection and nutritional status progressively deteriorates, resulting in weight loss, muscle tissue loss and reduced immune function. The HIV-wasting syndrome may occur because of loss of appetite, increased nutrient needs, altered ability to process nutrients, and decreased absorption. Clinical nutrient deficiencies develop as the disease progresses, and supplements may be very useful. Malnutrition is common in AIDS patients, and those patients in whom it is more severe tend to die sooner.

It is important to eat enough calories to maintain a healthy body weight and to eat enough protein to build muscle and repair any damage that occurs. In those who are infected with HIV but have no signs of the disease, eating a wide variety of healthy foods every day is vital as nutrient and calorie requirements are increased. HIV diets high in protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber and low in fat, are usually recommended. Foods which are high in sugar and fat should not replace nutritious foods but can be enjoyed along with these foods and can be useful to help with maintaining or gaining weight. However, large amounts of sugar may suppress immunity and should be avoided.

Food safety can be very important for people with HIV; and handling, cooking and storing food safely are very important to prevent infection. In a 1998 study, New York researchers advised HIV-infected people to boil tap water before drinking. Even at low levels, the water-borne parasite Cryptosporidium represents a threat to those with weakened immune systems.

When and if AIDS develops, specialized dietary approaches are necessary. AIDS sufferers experience various physical disturbances due to the disease or the various medications used to treat it. These include diarrhea, nausea, mouth ulcers, painful swallowing, poor appetite and fatigue. Choosing carefully the types of foods to be eaten and the times and ways to eat them can help deal with these effects.

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