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Eating a Balanced diet & The effects of nutrition on HIV              

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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 energy expenditure

Worsened HIV disease

Nutritional deficiencies

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:



 Food Group Daily Serving


Starchy foods: Bread, rice, pasta, cereals, potatoes, sweet potatoes.

Four or more portions each day. You can use this food to satisfy your appetite.


2  Fruits & Vegetable: Fresh, frozen, dried & liquefied, including leafy green vegetables.


You can take at least 5 portions of this each day.
3 Meat - Fish - Eggs - Nuts and pulses: Pulses include lentils, kidney beans and other types of beans without sugary sauces.


2 portions of this is fine each day.
4 Dairy products: Including milk, yoghurt, hard cheeses, fromage frais.


3 portions of this is fine each day.
5 Spreading & Cooking Fats This is advisably good in small quantity daily


6 Sugar & Confectionery Eat only limited quantity and do not eat instead of nutrients-densed foods. we mean those in the first four classes


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