Human immunodeficiency virus and nutrition is an important topic to be considered in the health sector. Human immunodeficiency virus is a virus that causes damage to the cells that helps the body fight infections, causing a person to become more vulnerable to other infections and diseases. It proliferates by contact with certain bodily fluid of a person living with HIV, commonly during unprotected sex or through shearing of syringe, and sharing of electric clipper.
If not properly managed, it can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). There is no cure for HIV ones gotten it’s for life and the best approach to living with HIV is proper management. Taking the right medication and nutrient needed by the body. Everyone living with HIV still have a chance of living a better life like a normal human being. However by taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) , people living with HIV can live long and also have a healthy live.
For those infected with HIV, you need to take proper care of yourself and also have a balanced nutrition life. That is because your body will undergo some changes. For example, you may experience extreme weight loss, diarrhea or infections and lipodystrophy (fat distribution syndrome) which can cause changes in body shape and increase in cholesterol levels. Improving your diet life can improve health and how better you feel.
Role of Nutrition in HIV/AIDS
Nutrition has played a vital role in the management of HIV/AIDS which includes:
- Keep your immune system stronger so your body can fight better against disease and infections.
- An overall development of your lifestyle by providing your body the right and adequate nutrients needed.
- Helped in providing the best and proper approach in the management of HIV symptoms and complications.
- Longevity in the lifespan of HIV patients.
- Helped in building the self esteem of an individual living with HIV in the society
The Basic Approach of Nutrition to HIV
There are adopted approaches to best manage HIV, these approaches could be helpful which includes;
- Consume more of vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains.
- Limit consumption of sweets, carbonated drinks, and food with high sugar.
- Choose low-fat sources of protein.
- Consume carbohydrate, protein, and a little good fat in all meals and your snacks.
Here are specific approaches you can adopt to get you started with a healthier diet plan.
Water is the principal chemical component of the body and it makes up about 50-70% of your body weight. As an individual living with HIV, your body needs water to survive.
Your body cell, tissues and organ needs water to function properly. Lack of water in your body can lead to dehydration and this can drain your energy and make you tired. Ideally, the amount of water needed by the body daily varies with sex;
- 3.7 liters of water daily for men ( About 15.5 cups)
- 2.7 liters of water daily for women (About 11.5 cups)
Your body needs water to function rightly and effectively so you won’t loss strength and energy.
Protein will help to build up your muscles, organs and a strong immune system against infections. You need the right amount of protein in your body to live healthy:
- For men who are HIV-positive, aim for 100-150 grams of protein daily.
- For women who are HIV-positive, aim for 80-100 grams daily.
Those with kidney problem should not do more than 15%-20% of your calories from protein.
Sources of Protein
- Skinless chicken breast
- Low-fat dairy products e.g skimmed milk
Carbohydrate gives you the energy your body needs to carry out daily task or activities. Your body needs the right amount of carbohydrate to function rightly:
- Consume legumes and whole grains, for example brown rice and quinoa.
- Whole-wheat flour, oats, and barley is will be fine if you aren’t gluten sensitive and if you do, go on brown rice, quinoa, and potato for starch sources.
- If you are diabetic or have insulin resistance, most of your carbohydrates should go with lots of vegetables.
- There should be a limit to your sugar intake such as cakes, candy, cookies and ice cream.
Fat gives your body extra energy and warmth. You need the right amount of fat to keep going:
- Consume 10% or more of daily calories from monounsaturated fats such as fish, canola, nuts, and avocado.
- 30% of your daily calories should be consumed from fat.
- Less than 10% of your daily calories from polyunsaturated Fats such as soybean, fish, walnuts, corn, and sunflowers.
- 70% of your daily calories should be consumed from saturated fats such as fatty meat, egg, chicken, butter, whole-milk dairy foods, coconuts and palm oils.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals regulates an individual body processes. People living with HIV or who are HIV-positive need to consume extra vitamins and minerals to helps repair and heal cells that are damaged. Consume foods high in vitamins and minerals, which can help boost your immune system.
- Vitamin A (Retinol) and beta-carotene: carrot, orange, milk, red vegetables and fruits, liver, whole eggs.
- Vitamin C: orange, orange juice, strawberries, potatoes, broccoli, African star apple (chrysophyllum albidum), guavas, papaya (pawpaw), tomato.
- Vitamin E: green leafy vegetables, soybean oil, peanuts, peanut butter, spinach.
- B vitamins: fish, meat, chicken, grains, nuts, white beans, avocados.
- Zinc: milk and other dairy products, beans, fish, meat, peanuts.
People living with HIV or who are HIV-positive can still live that normal and better life they crave for, there’s no need for the low self esteem life, be free to live with people, never feel isolated and enjoy being your real self. Having HIV is never the end of it, observe good hygiene, eat balance diet, obey the instruction or counsel from a registered dietician and since it is difficult to get enough of all the nutrients you need from foods, your health care provider may recommend a multivitamin/ mineral tablet your body needs.