Guidelines for a Healthy HIV Diet: What to Eat When You Have HIV


Guidelines for a Healthy HIV Diet: What to Eat When You Have HIV

Here's how to eat to improve your immune system, control your weight, safeguard your muscles and bones, and increase your energy and general health. Aim to have a "rainbow" of fruits and vegetables, including fresh or frozen vegetables, on your plate.

Taking a daily pill or getting a monthly or bimonthly shot can help you manage your HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection.

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) can make sure that the viral load, or quantity of virus in the blood, remains at an undetectable level. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAAA), individuals with undetectable viral loads can live long, healthy lives without the risk of contracting AIDS.

However, even when it is properly controlled, HIV still results in a minimal amount of inflammation that can eventually harm the body.

Despite the fact that it cannot be found in blood, HIV can still be found in tissue and can cause an inflammatory response in the lymph nodes. John R. Koethe, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, adds that some HIV treatments can hasten the aging of the cardiovascular system.

According to a report in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, ART can also change how the body distributes fat, which can result in weight gain or obesity and the associated health issues.

Dietary counselors are frequently a part of HIV treatment teams, and they emphasize the value of boosting nutrition and adjusting calorie needs based on an individual's response to ART. (Keep in mind that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that someone with HIV may need more calories to maintain a healthy weight than someone without HIV.

According to Allison Webel, PhD, RN, professor and associate dean for research at UW School of Nursing in Seattle, "For people living with HIV, a healthy diet helps lower the likelihood of developing heart disease, cancers, and other conditions, while improving the quality of life.".

Dr. Webel is a co-leader of the multi-site PROSPER-HIV study, which was started in 2018 to evaluate the dietary and exercise requirements of HIV-positive individuals.

She advises HIV-positive individuals to adhere to the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which have been modified for their special requirements, until the results are available in 2023. 

Continue reading for her nutrition and food safety advice on how to maintain a healthy diet while living with HIV.


Here are Guidelines for a Healthy HIV Diet: What to Eat When You Have HIV


• Fruits and Vegetables can Control Inflammation

One of the best thing’s HIV-positive people can do, according to Dr. Dot Webel, is to eat vegetables, whether they are fresh or frozen. Fresh fruits, dark green leafy vegetables (such as kale, spinach, and broccoli), red, orange, and yellow produce (such as beets, yellow peppers, and carrots), as well as beans, peas, legumes, and starchy vegetables are among the "rainbow" of foods she advises consuming.

To get rid of any potentially dangerous bacteria or other germs, wash fruits and vegetables before eating them raw or cooked.

According to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, HIV-positive individuals should pay extra attention to food safety because they may have compromised immune systems that make them more susceptible to food-borne illnesses.

• Protein Can Help Maintain Muscle Mass

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advises people with HIV to include protein-rich foods at all meals, such as lean beef, organic chicken, turkey, oily fish, eggs, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, or from nuts and nut butters, beans, and seeds. Edamame and tofu, two foods high in protein that are made from soybeans, are also advised by Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Because HIV patients are more likely to experience the long-term effects of inflammation on muscle tissue, protein is crucial for maintaining muscle mass.

According to Mayo Clinic, protein can maintain your strength, increase your energy, and support a healthy immune system. Webel recommends consuming 1–1–4 grams of lean protein per kilogram of body weight each day. (Pounds to kilograms can be converted using the Metric-Conversions.

org tool.

Depending on the individual's preferences and access to food, she adds, "This can be a combination of plant and animal sources of protein.".

People with HIV should only consume pasteurized dairy products, use separate knives and cutting boards for raw meats and produce, and avoid eating raw or undercooked meat, fish, or eggs.


• Fiber May Improve Nutritional Absorption

Raw, fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and maintain a healthy digestive system. Some starchy foods also provide an affordable way to deliver a startling nutritional punch.

Given the potential for poor nutrient absorption brought on by HIV-related inflammation, Webel claims that a simple meal like brown rice and beans can deliver sufficient protein, fiber, and other nutrients at a reasonable price.


• Important Vitamins and Nutrients can Strengthen your Immune System

The majority of vitamin, mineral, fat, and carb needs should be satisfied by diets that emphasize plants, proteins, and fiber. To combat some of the potential side effects of antiretroviral medications, such as bone demineralization (weakening of the bones) and elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, people who follow a special diet for HIV should also concentrate on certain nutrients.

The following are examples of good nutrition for HIV-positive individuals:

Vitamin D According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), vitamin D strengthens bones and is produced by the body through sun exposure.

• It is available in fortified milk and fatty fish.

•  Calcium Bone health also depends on calcium. It can be found in fatty fish, dairy products, calcium-fortified non-dairy milk, and orange juice.

•  Iron Red meat can aid in the body's production of hemoglobin, a substance that helps carry oxygen through the blood. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, foods that are high in iron include leafy greens, seafood, whole-grain breads and pastas, eggs, liver, and even dark chocolate. S. the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

• "Good" Fats According to the Mayo Clinic, foods high in "good" fats—such as extra virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts, salmon, tuna, and other oily fish—promote cell growth and give you energy.


• Drinking Water can Help you Feel Better

Water improves digestion and elimination, supports metabolic processes, transports medications through the body, and maintains the health of cells. Additionally, it controls body temperature and makes the air more comfortable to breathe. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drinking water can aid in weight management and calorie restriction (if that is a goal for your health).

Webel claims that among her patients, she has discovered that drinking enough liquids lessens the muscle pain and fatigue that are frequently associated with HIV.

Webel claims that drinking water is the best thing you can do, but unsweetened carbonated and flavored waters are also acceptable. She advises consuming 2 to 3 liters per day, or 8 to 13 glasses of water.

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