July 24, 2024

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Information regarding Healthcare

Which foods can help boost the immune system in those living with HIV?

4 min read

Healthcare professionals may recommend certain foods to help boost the immune system in people living with HIV. This may involve a dietary plan high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins.

HIV is a virus that affects a person’s white blood cells, weakening their immune system. This makes it easier for a person to have some diseases and cancers. Without treatment, the virus can progress to stage 3 HIV. This is also known as AIDS.

However, healthcare teams can use treatments to help manage the condition. People with HIV can live long and healthy lives. As part of a person’s HIV treatments, healthcare professionals recommend dietary plans and good nutrition. Good nutrition and food safety precautions have many benefits for people with HIV.

Healthy dietary plans for people living with HIV help maintain a healthy immune system. They include:

  • eating a variety of foods, such as:
  • eating foods low in:
  • maintaining a medically recommended weight by eating a certain amount of calories

Calories are a measure of the amount of energy in food or drink. Most adults normally require between 1,600 to 3,000 calories per day.

However, the calories a person needs to maintain or change weight depends on their:

  • sex
  • height
  • weight
  • level of physical activity
  • age

Healthy diet plans for people with HIV include sufficient calories. HIV makes a person’s immune system work harder to fight off infections, meaning a person may use more calories. Some people with HIV may need to eat more food than they used to. They may also need to avoid certain foods due to having a weakened immune system and include more proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

Healthcare teams will advise people with HIV on suitable diet plans. These plans include both macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are the types of foods people need in large quantities, such as:

  • carbohydrates
  • proteins
  • fats

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals people need in very small amounts. They are very important for the proper functioning of a person’s body.

Good nutrition plays an important role in helping people with HIV increase their resistance to infections. HIV damages a person’s immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections.

Good nutrition is also important for:

  • supporting overall health
  • helping maintain an immune system
  • helping maintain a medically recommended weight
  • absorbing HIV medications
  • improving quality of life

Nutritional counseling, care, and support from healthcare teams help people with HIV achieve good nutrition. Working with registered dietitians and nutritionists can help a person tailor their diet plans. This can help them avoid or improve some problems that may occur with HIV or HIV medications, such as higher blood sugars or higher cholesterol.

People with HIV should seek advice from healthcare teams and professionals before making major dietary changes.

HIV and HIV medications can sometimes cause nutritional problems. Some infections related to HIV may make it harder for a person to eat or swallow.

Some HIV medications may have side effects that affect a person’s nutrition, such as:

  • a loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • diarrhea

The treatment for HIV is known as antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART involves taking a daily combination of HIV medications. Weight gain is a common side effect of ART medications. Healthcare teams will help people with HIV manage ART weight gain through lifestyle changes.

People with HIV can also help avoid nutritional problems by taking food safety precautions.

Food safety is very important for people with HIV. People with HIV have weakened immune systems. This makes them vulnerable to foodborne infections that cause illnesses.

People with HIV can help protect themselves from these illnesses by following food safety rules and tips.

People with HIV can reduce their risk of foodborne illnesses by not eating or drinking the following foods:

  • raw eggs or foods containing them, such as homemade cookie dough
  • raw or undercooked poultry, meat, or seafood
  • unpasteurized milk or dairy products and fruit juices

They can also use the four basic steps to food safety:

  • Cleaning: When preparing foods, wash hands, cooking utensils, and countertops often.
  • Separating: People can keep foods separate to stop germs from spreading from one to another. For example, some foods are ready to eat, such as fruits, vegetables, and bread. People should separate these from raw meat and poultry, seafood, and eggs.
  • Cooking: A person should ensure they cook food thoroughly. They can use tools, such as a food thermometer, to help with this.
  • Chilling: People should refrigerate meat, poultry, and seafood. They should also refrigerate eggs or other foods likely to spoil within 2 hours of purchase or cooking.

Healthy eating plans can help people with HIV maintain their immune systems. Healthcare teams will recommend dietary plans and good nutrition as part of a person’s HIV treatment. These dietary plans include eating a variety of foods to provide sufficient calories and nutrients and avoiding some types of food.

Good nutrition is important to maintain a person’s immune system and fight off infections. It also has many other benefits for people with HIV. Practicing good food safety helps people with HIV avoid foodborne infections that cause illnesses.


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