Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infects the immune system of human beings. When it is left undiagnosed, it attacks and kills the cluster of differentiation (CD4) cells that are an essential part of the immune system. Eventually, the infected person progresses through the three stages of HIV infection and contracts a disease called acute immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV patients should take care of their diet as proper nutrition helps in keeping the immune system stronger, manage HIV symptoms and complications, and improve the overall quality of life.
Basic principles of HIV nutrition
A person diagnosed with HIV should follow a diet having an adequate quantity of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Protein sources can be lean and of low-fat content. It is better to reduce the intake of sweets and soft drinks with added sugar. Meals should have carbohydrates, proteins, and less amount of fats.
Calorie measure of HIV-infected individuals
Calories are the amount of energy that every food provides the person. A person diagnosed with HIV should keep a tab on the calorie intake to maintain the weight in the standard range.
- If the HIV patient is maintaining weight, then consumption of 17 calories per pound of body weight is beneficial.
- If the patient has opportunistic HIV infection, then the dietitians prescribe 20 calories per pound of body weight.
- If the HIV infected person is losing weight, then 25 calories per pound of body weight is best to maintain health.
Different categories of food for HIV patients
- Protein– HIV-infected men should have 100-150 grams of proteins in a day, and HIV-infected women should have 80-100 grams of protein. A person having kidney disease along with HIV infection should not have more than 15-20 percent of calories from proteins, as too much protein can put stress on the kidneys. It is better to have low-fat dairy products, skinless chicken, and extra-lean pork or beef as protein sources.
- Carbohydrates– A person diagnosed with HIV may have five to six servings of grains, fruits, and vegetables rich in carbohydrate. Nutritionists recommend choosing vegetables from a wide variety of colors. Legumes, brown rice, whole grains, and quinoa are healthy sources of carbohydrates for HIV patients.
- Fats– Fats provide the body with an extra source of energy. However, HIV-infected people should choose the fat source carefully. They must attain about 30 percent of the calories from fat. Out of this, 10 percent of calories should come from monosaturated fats (nuts, avocado, olive oil, and canola). Another 10 percent should come from polyunsaturated fat (sunflower, soybean, walnuts, and safflower oil). Approximately 7 percent should come from saturated fats (butter, poultry with skin, and whole-milk dairy products).
In addition to these foods, HIV patients should also have enough vitamins and minerals to repair their damaged cells and boost their immune system. They must limit their sugar and salt intake. Whether because of the virus or the treatment medications that one is taking, HIV increases the chances of suffering from heart disease. The ticker can get harmed because of too much sugar and salt. So, one should aim to get less than 10 percent of the calories each day from foods and drinks that have added sugar. Also, one must also not have more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.