Effects of Nutrition
The links between HIV and nutritional status run both
ways. It has long been known that weight loss strongly predicts illness
or death among people with HIV. More recently it has been found that
this applies even to people taking antiretroviral treatment. Losing as
little as 3-5% of body weight significantly increases the risk of death;
losing more than 10% is associated with a four- to six-fold greater
risk. A Zambian study involving nearly 30,000 patients has shown that
failure to gain weight six months after the start of antiretroviral
treatment increases the chance of death ten fold when compared with
those who gain over 10 kilograms.
Insufficient food intake, malabsorption, increased
Worsened HIV disease
Diagram showing the vicious
cycle of malnutrition and HIV
Various micronutrients have been linked to changes in
the rate at which HIV infection progresses to AIDS. Low levels of
vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin E and selenium seem to accelerate
progression. The effects of other micronutrients, however, are more
controversial. One such example is zinc. Although zinc is essential for
a healthy immune system, it has been shown to play a role in HIV’s
replication cycle. On the other hand, some scientists claim
zinc delays HIV disease progression.
Eating a Balanced Diet
If you are HIV positive - you may have suffered an immune system
damage which is an effect of the activities of the HIV. This situation
is however repairable gradually alongside one's daily medication
prescribed by one's medical doctor. Eating a balanced diet is a good
step in the right direction.
Various categories of food can be included in one's daily meals
ranging from Starchy foods, Fruits & Vegetables, Meat - Fish - Eggs -
Nuts & Pulses, Dairy products, spreading and cooking fats. Sugar &
Confectionery is good but minimal intake of it is advisable. You do not
need to measure quantities of food very accurately except on medical
advice. A balanced diet may comprise a combination of the following:
Starchy foods: Bread, rice, pasta, cereals,
potatoes, sweet potatoes.
Four or more portions each day. You can use this
food to satisfy your appetite.
Fruits & Vegetable: Fresh, frozen, dried &
liquefied, including leafy green vegetables.
You can take at least 5 portions of this each
Meat - Fish - Eggs - Nuts and pulses: Pulses
include lentils, kidney beans and other types of beans without
2 portions of this is fine each day.
Dairy products: Including milk, yoghurt, hard
cheeses, fromage frais.
3 portions of this is fine each day.
Spreading & Cooking Fats
This is advisably good in small quantity daily
Sugar & Confectionery
Eat only limited quantity and do not eat instead
of nutrients-densed foods. we mean those in the first four
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