Diet Recommendations for People Living with HIV
People living with HIV often experience liver problems and need to modify their diet to ensure their body is getting the nutrients it needs. A solid nutrition plan is essential for people living with HIV and AIDS because certain foods can support the immune system, reduce the risk of infections and delay the loss of muscle tissue wasting. People living with HIV often need to increase their protein intake and ensure that they are maintaining a balanced diet of fat, protein and carbs.
If you or a loved one are HIV positive, set up a consultation with your physician to discuss your diet plan. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian or nutrition counselor to create a customized menu that will meet your nutritional needs. Your dietitian can recommend foods and supplements that will keep your energy levels up and ensure that you are getting the right balance of fats, carbs and protein with each meal.
Diet Tips for People with Living with HIV
Registered dietitians and nutrition experts at Tufts University School of Medicine recommend that people living with HIV maintain a “high quality diet” which consists of a wide range of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein and nutrient-dense foods (Source: HIVandHepatitis.org). People living with HIV need to make sure that about 50% of their carbohydrates come from whole grains and that they are limiting consumption of sugar, sweets and soft drinks because these foods can cause extreme spikes in blood sugar levels.
Some of the essential diet tips for people living with HIV include:
- Choosing lean protein sources, such as skinless chicken breast, fish and low-fat dairy products
- Eating at least one or more servings of nuts, seeds and legumes each day
- Ensuring that all meals and snacks have all three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fat
- Eating five to six servings of fruits and vegetables per day (approximately three cups)
- Choosing complex carbohydrates, such as oats, barley, brown rice and whole wheat flour
- Making sure 10% or less of the total calorie intake consists of polyunsaturated fat (healthy fats)
Nutrition Supplements for People Living with HIV
Some health experts believe that nutritional supplements can slow down HIV disease and also help to support a weakened immune system. Marianna Baum from Florida International University in Miami and colleagues presented 3 nutrition studies at AIDS 2010. Results of the study indicate that micronutrient supplementation could slow down the progression of HIV disease and could also help to improve the patient’s well-being. In addition to micronutrients, HIV patients can benefit from Zinc supplementation and increasing antioxidants in the diet. Zinc is available in a basic supplement form, and many foods, including grapes, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and other natural foods are rich in antioxidants.
If you are living with HIV, talk to your doctor about creating a meal plan that could slow down the progression of the disease. Eating certain foods and taking supplements could help to slow muscle wasting and strengthen your immune system.