- In people with HIV, good nutrition supports overall health and helps maintain the immune system. Good nutrition also helps people with HIV maintain a healthy weight and absorb HIV medicines.
- Food and water can be contaminated with germs that cause illnesses (called foodborne illnesses or food poisoning).
- Because HIV damages the immune system, foodborne illnesses are likely to be more serious and last longer in people with HIV than in people with a healthy immune system.
- Food safety is about how to select, handle, prepare, and store food to prevent foodborne illnesses. Following food safety guidelines reduces the risk of foodborne illnesses.
Why is good nutrition important for people living with HIV?
Good nutrition is about finding and maintaining a healthy eating style. Good nutrition supports overall health and helps maintain the immune system. It also helps people with HIV maintain a healthy weight and absorb HIV medicines.
HIV attacks and destroys the immune system, which makes it harder for the body to fight off infections. People with HIV take a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV treatment regimen) every day. The medicines prevent HIV from destroying the immune system. A healthy diet also helps strengthen the immune system and keep people with HIV healthy
What is a healthy diet for people living with HIV?
In general, the basics of a healthy diet are the same for everyone, including people with HIV.
- Eat a variety of foods from the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy.
- Try to choose different colors of vegetables and fruit and to eat at least 5 portions a day.
- Animal products, i.e. fish, chicken, meat, milk and eggsshould be eaten daily to combat muscle loss. These protein rich foods are also good sources of Vitamins A, B6, B12 and zinc which all play a positive role in the functioning of the immune system.
- Dry beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, peanut butter or soyashould be eaten regularly as they are good sources of protein.
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. The water should be clean and safe. If it comes from a river or borehole, it should be boiled and cooled down before drinking. If you experience diarrhoea you should not stop drinking water (Unless contaminated water is the cause it). You actually need to drink more water to replace the water being lost
- Eat the right amount of food to maintain a healthy weight.
- Choose foods low in saturated fat, sodium (salt), and added sugars.
- What Foods And Drinks Should I Avoid?
- Alcohol can be harmful to the liver and deplete vitamin and mineral supplies. It is therefore recommended that HIV/AIDS sufferers consume no alcohol.
- When feeling nauseous, avoid greasy and spicy foods.
- Each patient is unique and each may respond differently to a given type of food. Some foods (e.g. milk) may cause nausea in certain patients, while it may have no effect on others. Foods responsible for causing discomfort should be consumed less often, in smaller quantities or be avoided altogether.
What Can I Do When I Don’t Have An Appetite?
- Try to eat 6 small meals throughout the day rather than fewer large meals
- Take a high-energy nutrient-dense drink between meals. Drinks/Smoothies can be self-prepared by adding sugar, oil, peanut butter, mashed fruit etc. to full-cream milk if well tolerated
- Avoid drinking liquids with meals as this can cause discomfort and can also increase the feeling of satiety and nausea.
- Have more personal favorite dishes or types of food
- Sugar, fat or oil can be added to meals to increase energy intake (e.g. add a teaspoon of peanut butter to a bowl of porridge).
Can HIV or HIV medicines cause nutrition-related problems?
HIV and HIV medicines can sometimes cause nutrition-related problems. For example, some HIV-related infections can make it hard to eat or swallow. Side effects from HIV medicines, such as loss of appetite, nausea, or diarrhea, can make it hard to stick to an HIV regimen. If you have HIV and are having a nutrition-related problem, talk to a registered Dietitian (www.adsa.org.za )
To avoid nutrition-related problems, people with HIV must also pay attention to food safety.
What is food safety?
Food and water can be contaminated with germs that cause illnesses (called foodborne illnesses or food poisoning). Food safety is about how to select, handle, prepare, and store food to prevent foodborne illnesses.
Why is food safety important for people living with HIV?
Because HIV damages the immune system, foodborne illnesses are likely to be more serious and last longer in people with HIV than in people with a healthy immune system. Following food safety guidelines reduces the risk of foodborne illnesses.
What steps can people with HIV take to prevent foodborne illnesses?
If you have HIV, follow these food safety guidelines to reduce your risk of foodborne illnesses:
Do not eat or drink the following foods:
- Raw eggs or foods that contain raw eggs, for example, homemade cookie dough
- Raw or undercooked poultry, meat, and seafood
- Unpasteurized milk or dairy products and fruit juices
Follow the four basic steps to food safety: clean, separate, cook, and chill.
- Clean: Wash your hands, cooking utensils, and countertops often when preparing foods.
- Separate: Separate foods to prevent the spread of any germs from one food to another. For example, keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from foods that are ready to eat, including fruits, vegetables, and breads.
- Cook: Use a food thermometer to make sure that foods are cooked to safe temperatures.
- Chill: Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, or other foods that are likely to spoil within 2 hours of cooking or purchasing.
For more information SANCU 012 341 9746
FACS 2023 Updated May 2023