HIV targets the immune system of the body, eradicating white blood cells necessary for infection defense.
People with HIV can live long and healthy lives provided medication, including antiretroviral therapy (ART) medications, is available and administered as directed. HIV treatment has advanced significantly.
Many HIV-positive individuals are looking for natural alternatives to antiretroviral therapy (ART), such as nutrition and supplements.
This article examines the significance of nutrition and dietary supplements in HIV-positive people and offers suggestions for maintaining general health while residing with HIV.
HIV and nutrition are related. Did you know?
Protein, vitamins, and minerals are nutrients that the body needs to function properly, including the immune system. Because of this, it is crucial for everyone to eat a balanced diet that offers a variety of nutrients, regardless of their HIV status.
A balanced diet can lower the risk of malnutrition and maintain the health of the immune system.
HIV-positive individuals have greater dietary requirements than the normal population and are more likely to have vitamin shortages. Additionally, some nutrients are particularly crucial for people with HIV as they play a crucial role in immunity and may lessen ART side effects.
Those with HIV are more likely to suffer from malnutrition.
Compared to the general population, people with HIV are more likely to become undernourished because their energy requirements are around 10% greater for those who are asymptomatic and 20–30% higher for those who are symptomatic.
In a 2019 study with 812 HIV-positive individuals, 11.45% of the participants were found to be at some risk for malnutrition. Malnutrition was more likely to occur in women and older persons. Comparing Hispanic individuals to Black and White participants, they likewise had a higher risk.
This may indicate that folks who have HIV, even those who are asymptomatic, may require more calories and nutrients in general, including protein. There are currently no recommendations for protein intake for those with HIV, even though it is understood that people with HIV have higher protein needs than those without the virus.
According to earlier studies, some specialists advise HIV-positive individuals to maintain their weight and muscle mass by consuming.45-.63 grams of protein per pound (1-1.4 g/kg) of body weight.
1.5-2 grams per kilogram (g/kg) for HIV-positive individuals putting on weight and building muscle.
According to other research, dietary supplements with a lot of protein can assist HIV-positive persons put on weight and building muscle.
Additionally, earlier studies suggest that protein supplements may enhance immune function by raising concentrations of some blood cells that fight infections, such as CD4 lymphocytes. Since CD4 cells are targeted and destroyed by HIV, CD4 levels are used to evaluate the health of HIV-positive individuals.
Nutrient deficits are more likely to occur in HIV-positive individuals.
Comparing HIV-positive individuals to the general population, those individuals are more likely to have nutritional deficiencies.
That is brought on by immunological dysfunction, increased nutrient requirements, nutrient malabsorption, and adverse effects of ART.
Many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, B12, folate, selenium, vitamin E, vitamin B6, and more, are more likely to be deficient in patients with HIV, according to studies that have been conducted over time.
For instance, multiple studies have shown that HIV-positive individuals are at a high risk of vitamin D deficiency, which might impair immunological function. In addition, vitamin D insufficiency in HIV-positive individuals has been linked to infections, depression, high blood pressure, and bone damage. Fortunately, research indicates that taking vitamin D supplements can help restore vitamin D levels and enhance immune function indicators, such as CD4 counts.
To address deficiencies and support patients with HIV in maintaining adequate nutrient levels, supplementation with a multivitamin or single-nutrient supplements may be useful.
However, as HIV-positive patients have variable vitamin demands depending on factors including diet, sex, age, and disease severity, it is ideal for them to develop an individualized supplement regimen with a team of healthcare professionals.
Health care providers may order bloodwork for you if you have HIV to check your levels of specific nutrients, such as vitamin D and B12, and then base their supplement recommendations on the results. The effectiveness of treatment may be increased, and the negative effects of ART may be reduced with proper nutrition.
A nutrient-rich diet may lower the likelihood of HIV medication-related adverse effects and increase the effectiveness of treatment for HIV-positive individuals. Some ARTs (assisted reproductive technologies) significantly impact bone health, interfere with the body’s capacity to metabolize fats and glucose (sugars), raise the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes as well as reduce bone mineral density.
Because of this, HIV-positive individuals must use ARTs to maintain a healthy, balanced diet and as needed, take dietary supplements. A diet heavy in protein, good fats, and fiber may lessen the negative consequences of ART and HIV, such as insulin resistance and high blood fat levels.
For instance, a well-balanced, high-fiber diet with a low glycemic index can support good insulin and blood sugar regulation while lowering blood fat levels.
Vitality of nutrition
Everyone benefits from a good diet, but those with HIV or AIDS who must contend with numerous health issues need it most. Impaired immunity is one of these.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), an individual with HIV may need to expend more energy as their immune system works harder to combat infections. They might need to eat extra food as a result.
Losing weight can also result from HIV and AIDS. This is a typical issue for those whose HIV has progressed. This is because the infection may cause a person to lose their appetite or become too exhausted to eat.
Weight loss owing to difficulty eating can also be brought on by symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and mouth sores.
Here is more information on HIV symptoms
Eating a balanced diet provides many advantages for those with HIV or AIDS, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), including:
- increasing tolerance to problems and infections
- reducing the negative effects of drugs
- reducing HIV-related symptoms
- enhancing one’s quality of life
Food hygiene and safety are crucial
HIV and AIDS can lower immunity, which may increase a person’s susceptibility to foodborne infections.
When a person’s immune system is compromised, germs in food and water can result in diseases that stay longer and are more serious. Therefore, somebody with weakened immunity may want to take additional measures when cooking and eating in addition to eating healthfully.
The following actions are recommended:
- Before and after preparing meals and eating, wash your hands with soap and water.
- Maintain clean surfaces and utensils.
- Fresh produce should be rinsed with hygienic water.
- If the expiration date has gone, stay away from ingesting packaged goods.
- Food should be defrosted in the refrigerator or microwave rather than at room temperature.
- Cook fish, poultry, and meat at a temperature of 165-212°F (74-100°C) or until well-done. To check the temperature, use a meat thermometer.
- Avoid unpasteurized dairy products and sushi.
- Avoid eating undercooked eggs, such as those that have been fried over easy or soft-boiled.
- Eat only leftovers that are no older than three days.
- Viruses, parasites, and bacteria can all be found in water. One might want to invest in a water filter for their home to prevent becoming sick from contaminated water.
A person who has HIV or AIDS and a weakened immune system can also think about solely using boiling water for drinking and cooking.
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