HIV and Food: Can Food Help Your HIV Symptoms?

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HIV and FoodHIV weakens your immune system. Since our body uses up nutrients to keep our defenses up to the task of working against germs, it’s important to stack our diet with nutritious foods to help fight off infections. A healthy diet also helps to boost your energy levels, protect you from other diseases, and ease the complications brought by HIV and its treatments.

There’s no specific diet that you should follow if you have HIV, but it helps to have a nutritious and healthy diet in general, to fight the infection and its symptoms.

Do I Need a Special Diet for HIV?

You don’t need a specific dietary plan or a particular group of food to boost your immune system and fight against HIV. There are ways, however, to help you boost your immunity system.

  • If you have HIV, your immune system will be working very hard to fight off infections, which uses up a lot of your energy (measured in calories). For some, it could mean that you have to eat more food than you were used to before.
  • If you have an advanced HIV disease or you are underweight, you should introduce more protein and calories (in the form of carbohydrates and fats) to your diet.

How to Stop Losing Weight Because of HIV

Weight loss is a common problem among people with advanced stages of HIV infection. Losing weight because of HIV should not be ignored as it can be extremely dangerous to your health. If you keep losing weight, it will be harder for your body to fight off infections, leaving you more vulnerable to other diseases.

People with advanced stages of HIV lose their weight because:

  • They are not eating well enough. People with HIV have reduced appetites because the infection can make food taste bad and it prevents the body from absorbing the food properly. Some HIV medications can also cause this problem. If this is happening to you, talk to your doctor or specialist so they can find you an alternative medicine that doesn’t have these side effects.
  • HIV symptoms like nausea, sore mouth, and vomiting make it difficult for infected people to eat.

To help you stop losing weight when you have HIV, be sure to load your diet with protein-rich foods and calories such as beans, butter, cream cheese, fruits, and vegetables.

Foods That Can Help Ease HIV Symptoms

Most symptoms of HIV, as well as the complications caused by the medications, can be prevented if you avoid certain types of food and drinks.

Below are some dietary tips to help you deal with common problems associated with HIV.

1. Nausea

  • Try ginger tea, ginger ale, or ginger snaps.
  • Avoid drinking any beverages while eating your meals.
  • Eat something like crackers before getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Keep a small snack with you for you to eat every one to two hours.

2. Mouth and swallowing problems

  • Avoid eating hard or crunchy foods such as raw vegetables.
  • Eat cooked vegetables and fruits such as bananas and pears.
  • Eat soft foods such as mashed potatoes, oatmeal, and yogurt.
  • You may also consider canned fruits, cheese, and scrambled eggs.
  • Avoid eating grapefruits, oranges, tomatoes, or any food that has a lot acid, as it can sting your mouth.

3. Diarrhea

  • Be sure to stay hydrated with water at all times and avoid beverages that have caffeine.
  • Avoid drinking sodas and other sweetened beverages if possible.
  • Avoid eating spicy foods.
  • Avoid drinking milk and other dairy products.
  • Keep a small snack with you for you to eat every one to two hours.

Remember that there is no “right” food that can help you fight against HIV. What you need to do is to ensure that you eat well every day. Begin with changing your daily diet into a nutritious one that contains the right amount of nutrients you need to fight off HIV infections. Work with your doctor or specialist after HIV testing, to create a dietary plan that suits your needs.

 

Angela Hall

Angie is a health enthusiast who specialises in spreading STD education across the country and shares them to peers and readers that might be interested. She enjoys what she does and loves to travel to different areas. She loves to write for websites and is a family girl at heart.

 


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