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HIV Diet Plan

With the increasing number of HIV cases in the past decade, the role of healthy nutrition in HIV patients has become even more important these days. A healthy HIV diet includes nutritious foods which are helpful in fighting the ill-effects of an HIV infection. Studies have shown that malnutrition is one of the biggest and deadliest problems faced by people suffering from HIV. A person suffering from this condition requires a special HIV diet which is high in calories and can help protect him from HIV related risks like malnutrition. In addition, patients also face problems like muscle wastage, excess immunosuppression, abnormal metabolism and starvation.
Therefore a good HIV diet plan can help reduce the symptoms of the infection as well as the side effects of drugs taken during treatment. Most drug combination therapies used to treat HIV infections also have side effects which can be effectively reduced by a good HIV diet therapy. Proper nutrition is also important for the absorption of certain medications in the body. The aim of some treatments is to increase the life span of HIV patients and these people can definitely benefit in the long run by following a healthy HIV diet nutrition plan. An HIV diet aims at providing good macro and micro nutrients to the patient’s body which can keep the body cells functioning properly and prevent weight loss.  Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins and fats which provide energy and calories while micronutrients include minerals and vitamins which are essential for the body. A good diet is especially important for people suffering from HIV because their body needs more energy to fight infections as compared to a normal healthy person. HIV patients suffer from appetite loss and tend to eat less which can cause further health problems for them. Some HIV infected people suffer from stomach problems on account of their medications while some others have problems in their mouth and throat which can make it difficult for them to eat. Some patients even suffer from chronic diarrhea due to infections and drugs and hence lose their appetite which further affects their condition negatively.

HIV Foods to Avoid, Eat

A healthy HIV diet and exercise play an important role in fighting HIV infections and their side effects. HIV makes the immune system in the body very weak and susceptible to all sorts of other infections. Therefore it is even more important to follow a good HIV dietary management plan to give your body a fighting chance and keep it as healthy as possible. However, it is not always easy for an HIV patient to adhere to a regular nutritious diet. The body needs extra energy to fight infections and hence it needs nutritious food to provide that extra energy. Sometimes however, HIV drugs and medications can make the patient sick or can even cause sores and inflammations in the mouth and throat making it difficult for the patient to eat orally. In such cases intravenous intervention may also be necessary to provide the required nutrition for the patient. Very often patients suffer from diarrhea which causes excess loss of fluids from the body and can even result in severe dehydration if not treated at the earliest. HIV dietary supplements in liquid form can be given to the patient to replace lost electrolytes in the body. Some patients even prefer taking HIV diet pills to meet the nutritional needs of their body. However, it very important to take these dietary supplements and pills under medical supervision so as to avoid further health complications. People with HIV infections need more nutrients and energy as compared to other people and hence their diet must include foods which are rich in proteins. Fresh meats, fish, beans, nuts and seeds are good HIV foods to include in a regular diet. Vegetables, fruits, cereals and grains are other HIV foods to eat regularly to get a good supply of carbohydrates and energy.  For people suffering from HIV foods to avoid include fatty or oily foods, unripe or acidic vegetables and fruits, spicy foods and in some cases even milk. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages should be completely avoided as they can increase the risk of dehydration because of their diuretic properties. It is important to have plenty of water to avoid dehydration and problems like constipation.

Studies have shown that a high fiber HIV diet for men helps reduce the risk of developing fat depositions. This means that infected men with lower fat deposition are able to absorb more energy with the help of good nutritional foods. Although the basic HIV dietary recommendations remain the same, it is also important to tailor them based on individual circumstances. People who suffer from asymptomatic HIV infections need to follow a regular healthy diet just like normal people but in cases where the person suffers from chronic symptoms, HIV dietary changes need to be made accordingly to help his body get the right nutrition. Even though appetite loss is common in almost all HIV patients, it is important to keep eating to meet the nutritional needs of the body. Eating regular small healthy meals through the day is a better option as compared to eating 3 bigger meals especially in cases where patients suffer from nausea and vomiting. Liquid food supplements and appetite stimulants may also be prescribed to such patients to avoid problems like starvation and dehydration. Hormonal treatments and steroids are other treatment options though these may be expensive and could have other side effects. While suffering from HIV dietary problems are common but need to be taken care of nonetheless. Green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and peppers are foods that fight HIV with the help of their antioxidant properties. They can help reduce cell damage and ageing in HIV patients. Vitamins like folic acid, riboflavin and thiamine are good for strengthening the immune system while vitamins A, E and C are important for a healthy mind. Maintaining a healthy HIV dietary intake not only helps strengthen your body to fight the infection but also increases your chance for a long healthy life. 
Submitted on January 16, 2014