If you are a person living with HIV, nutrition and HIV is a subject you’ll want to pay special attention to because your body will go through changes, from medications and the disease itself. Experience of extreme weight loss, infections, or diarrhea as well as a common change lipodystrophy (fat distribution syndrome), can cause body shape changes and increases in cholesterol levels. Improving your diet can enhance your health and how well you feel. Good nutrition can have several benefits such as improving your overall quality of life by providing nutrients your body needs, keeping your immune system stronger so you can better fight disease as well as to help manage HIV symptoms and complications.
Nutrition is important in processing medications and helping to manage their side effects. There’s no specific special diet for people with HIV, but an overall healthy diet can help your health a lot. Eat fruits and vegetables which protect your immune system because they’re high in nutrients called antioxidants. Half your plate at each meal should be filled with vegetables and fruits. Eat a lot of different produce to get the most vitamins and minerals. Your body uses lean protein to build muscle and a strong immune system. Choose low-fat options like lean beef, poultry, eggs, beans, and nuts. For those that are underweight, you may need to eat more protein. The same applies for those in advanced stage of HIV. A nutritionist can assist in figuring out the right amount for you. Intake of whole grains is important because they give your body energy. Examples are brown rice and whole wheat bread, which are packed with energy-boosting B vitamins and fiber.
In order to avoid and lower your chances of acquiring a potential side effect of HIV called lipodystrophy due to fat deposits, eat plenty of fiber. Avoid or limit sweets, soft drinks, and foods with added sugar. Whether it’s because of the virus or the treatment drugs you’re taking, HIV raises your risk of getting heart disease. Moderate the amount of healthy fats you take because fat provides energy, but is also high in calories. Unless you’re trying to gain weight, limit your food intake. Heart friendly choices include nuts, vegetable oils, and avocado.