Nutrition is a very important part of life for those infected with HIV. Once infected with HIV the body begins to go through numerous changes making good nutrition vital. Those who are HIV positive are more likely to also experience other infections, loss of appetite, as well as nausea and vomiting and/or diarrhea which may result in extreme weight loss. Fat distribution syndrome or lipodystrophy may also occur which results in the body changing shape and rising levels of cholesterol. Each of these bodily changes makes having a healthy diet and lifestyle essential.
The Basics to a Healthy Life
Anyone who is infected with HIV knows that it is important to have a healthy lifestyle and most likely visits a registered dietitian at least a few times a year in order to make sure their diet is fulfilling their bodies needs. There is no specific HIV/AIDS diet out there today; however those infected do require more calories, vitamins/minerals, and certain food groups which can be discussed with your physician and registered dietitian.
The basic healthy diet consisting of lean, low-fat proteins, limited amounts of sweets and sugary foods, high consumption of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruits that is suggested to everyone is also suggested to those with HIV/AIDS. As well as incorporating the daily amount of recommended water intake and consuming meals and snacks with proteins, carbohydrates, and a small amount of good fats. All of these basic diet guidelines will help keep the body regulated and working properly. With a properly functioning body, one’s life expectancy is increased.
Vitamins and minerals are also very important to those infected with HIV as they need extra vitamins and minerals in order to help repair and heal any and all damaged cells in the body. Consuming foods with higher amount of immune boosting vitamins and minerals is important. These vitamin and minerals include:
- Zinc: which is found in peanuts, milk and dairy products, beans, fish, poultry, and meat
- Vitamin E: which is found in peanuts, vegetable oils, and green lefty veggies
- Selenium: which is found in fish, eggs, peanut butter, nuts, whole grains, and poultry
- Vitamin A: which is found in milk, whole eggs, liver, dark green, yellow, red, or orange fruits/veggies
- Vitamin C: which is found in citrus fruits
- B Vitamins: which is found in green leafy veggies, white beans, nuts, grain, fish, meat, chicken, broccoli, and avocados
Being able to get the recommended about of vitamins and minerals may be difficult through diet alone, especially since higher amounts are recommended to those infected with HIV. Physicians and registered dietitians may recommend including a good multivitamin into your diet, such as the Health Beacon Multivitamins. http://healthbeacon.co.uk/articles/featured/health-beacon/2013/07/optimum-nutrition-complex-what-is-it.aspx
Food safety is also very important to those infected with HIV as they are at a much higher risk of contracting a food-borne illness due to a weakened immune system. Protecting your body not only from the foods you eat but the preparation of foods is also very important. These basic guidelines will help keep your body healthy and less at risk.
- Use separate cutting board for your veggies, fruits, and raw meats (I use a different color for each!)
- Thoroughly wash all fruits and veggies before consumption
- Avoid consuming raw eggs, seafood, or meats (this includes sushi, shellfish, and oysters)
- Thoroughly wash your hands, as well as cutting boards and utensils’ with hot water and soap after each use
- Drink bottled water if unfamiliar with the area/traveling abroad, as well as ice
- Avoid unpasteurized juices
- Only used boiled water for drinking and cooking
- Do not drink water from natural areas such as ponds, streams, etc.
- Choose filtered or bottled water just to be on the safe side
Look at Magic Johnson for example; he was diagnosed with HIV during his prime basketball career with the LA Lakers which lead him to early retirement in 1991, at the young age of 32. Johnson came out of retirement twice within the next few years and finally retired for good in 1996. Now over twenty years later he has controlled the HIV virus to undetectable levels through a life style change of diet, treatment (medication), and exercise. Today, he is just like any other healthy man of his age doing what he loves. Yes he will always be HIV positive as there is no cure, but he is a true inspiration to all.