A well-balanced diet is key in HIV management

People on medication are encouraged to take balanced meals. 

What you need to know:

  • Because your body uses nutrients to keep up its defenses against germs, eating well can help you fight off infections.

By  Fiona Muthoni 

HIV affects millions of people worldwide. The virus weakens your immune system, making it hard to fight illness and infections. Besides taking ARVs to lower your viral load, eating a balanced diet helps you build your immune system.
The benefits of good nutrition for HIV/Aids patients include a stronger immune system, increased energy levels, improved mood and concentration and promotion of growth and development, especially for HIV-positive children. Below is an outline of what you need to include in your diet:
Proteins
Include a variety of high-quality proteins such as chicken, fish, eggs, beans, and nuts in your diet.
Proteins are essential for building muscles, repairing tissue, and maintaining a healthy immune system. They are broken down into amino acids which help the body with cell structure, digestion, and immune function.
Fish is a reliable source of protein because it has omega fatty acids, which boost your metabolism. Omega fatty acids also reduce inflammation in cells.
Beans are a good source of protein and fibre. They are also low in fat and calories.
Nuts are high in protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. They make a great snack option.
Fruits and vegetables
Include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet to get the most vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
Fruits are a major source of vitamins A, C, E, which have antioxidant properties that help fight infections. They are also high in water content, which hydrates and provides nutrients for the body.
Vegetables contain antioxidants such as vitamin C and E. They are also a good source of fibre, which helps with digestion and prevents constipation.
Vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, and squash are good antioxidants.
Healthy fats
Include healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds in your diet.
Healthy fats reduce inflammation, promote healthy skin and hair, and improve heart health.
Olive oil is a reliable source of monounsaturated fats. It is also high in antioxidants which help protect cells from damage.
Avocados are a source of healthy fats, fibre, and vitamins C and E. They can also help boost your body’s metabolism.
Carbohydrates
Include complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans, and peas in your diet.
Complex carbs provide a steady energy source for the body to function correctly. They also contain antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.Whole-wheat bread is high in fibre.
Sources of complex carbs include whole grains such as oats, quinoa, and brown rice, beans and peas, fruits such as apples and berries and vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are essential in maintaining a healthy body.
They help promote cell growth, boost the immune system, support nerve function, metabolise food properly, strengthen bones and teeth.
You can get vitamins from supplements or foods such as citrus fruits and berries, leafy vegetables, milk, yoghurt, eggs, cheese as well as beans, nuts, and seeds.
Essential minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc. You can get these from:
● Calcium through dairy products such as milk and yoghurt. It also comes in supplements.
● Phosphorus in meats, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, and seeds
● Magnesium in leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard, as well as legumes such as black beans and kidney beans
● Zinc from red meat, poultry, seafood (especially oysters), beans, and nuts
Water
Take water throughout the day to hydrate your body. Proteins are essential for building muscles, repairing tissue, and maintaining a healthy immune system. They are broken down into amino acids which help the body with cell structure, digestion, and immune function.

Limit junk foods and alcohol intake
Junk food can be high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and calories, leading to weight gain.

Alcohol is a toxin that can damage the body. It also lowers your immune system making it harder for your body to fight off infections.

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