Diet to improve immunity in HIV-positive patients

Poor nutrition can increase the risk of illness and even death in HIV infected people. A healthy diet can be a good place to start to build the immunity. And while there is no special diet or food that can cure or treat an HIV infection, you may need to make certain modifications in your diet to build your immunity and manage various aspects of the disease. Dr Manisha Dutta from Herbalife shares tips to manage the HIV infection better.

Eat a low-fat diet
Many medications used to treat HIV can alter your nutritional status. Certain antiretrovirals can also alter the absorption of the medication and cause gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea. Such medications may require you to go on a low-fat diet. So completely avoid intake of trans fats or hydrogenated oils, shortenings or margarine. Consumption of saturated fats which is found in products like whole milk and cheese, eggs, lard, palm or coconut oils, cream and meat must be decreased. Canned juices, sweetened beverages and high fat desserts like cakes, ice-creams and cookies are also best avoided.

Increase your calorie intake
HIV infection increases your calorie needs due to the effects the disease has on your immune system. The infection can not only impact your appetite but also impair your nutrient absorption which in turn can make it difficult for you to get the nutrition you need to maintain your lean body mass. A dietician can help you monitor your diet and manage your weight. Having said that, whole grain products like barley, brown rice, quinoa, cereals and whole wheat bread must be consumed regularly to maintain your body weight. Proteins are also a must but stick to a low-fat protein diet. Here are 12 diseases that affect people with HIV/AIDS

Load up on fibre rich foods
Fibre-rich foods do not stress the body’s immune system. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain carbohydrates that possess high levels of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Brown rice, potatoes and yams can be excellent to help increase the body’s immune system.

Eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a must. For vegetarians — wheat germ, flaxseed, tofu, soymilk, soybeans and soy-based foods are excellent options. For non-vegetarians — fatty fish such as herring, canned light tuna, mackerel (except king), trout, wild salmon and sardines are preferred. Here’s why you need omega 3 fatty acids in your diet. 

Drink plenty of fluids
Drink plenty of fluids, and avoid any drinks with high sugar content. Freshly squeezed fruit juices have high antioxidant properties and will help boost the immune system. However make sure that you avoid drinking beverages that contain caffeine, as this will cause the body to get stressed out and cause nervousness and anxiety.

Get the sunlight
A daily dose of sunlight will help the body to boost its vitamin D levels and in turn boost immunity. So take a brisk 10-minute walk early in the morning every day. Also, use yoga and Ayurveda to treat sexually transmitted diseases. 

Image source: Shutterstock Images

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