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AIDS Awareness: Get Proper Nutrition

Posted Dec 11 2009 10:51am

Proper nutrition is extremely important in the overall management of HIV and AIDS. Nourishment works with medications to fight the immune suppression initiated by the virus. Malnutrition can lead to muscle tissue wasting and eventual death.

General Nutrition Requirements
Ensuring that appropriate calories are taken in to prevent weight loss is important. Energy is needed to repair tissue and provide energy for the body cells. At a minimuma patient with HIV or AIDS should get 17 calories per pound of body weight daily. For examplefor one who weighs 145 pounds: 145 x 17 = 2464 calories each day. If weight gain is needed to reach ideal body weightadd an additional 500 calories a day.

Protein is also important for tissue repair and to maintain metabolism. Patients with AIDS are advised to take in at least .075 grams of protein per pound of body weightif they are at a normal weight for height. For examplethe 145 pound patient would need about 108.75 – round up to 110 – grams of protein daily.

Poor Appetite/Nausea
Many people living with HIV or AIDS experience a lack of appetiteparticularly when taking multiple medications. To combat thisbe sure to choose favorite foods to encourage eating. Make the setting pleasant and inviting. Drink caloric beverages such as 100% juiceor a commercial protein supplementsuch as Ensure. Snack frequently during the dayand if nausea is a problemtry dry carbohydrates such as crackers and toast. Take a multivitamin if intake is poor for an extended amount of time.

Taste Changes
Sometimes medications or infection can cause a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth. Try marinates such as soy saucefruit juicewineItalian dressingor sweet and sour sauce that can bring about a pleasant flavor. Seasonings also can helpparticularly stronger ones such as rosemaryoreganoor garlic. Cold foods may help by numbing the taste budsso try a sorbet or fruit ice before a meal. Plastic utensils can help to eliminate the metallic taste as well.

Oral Candidiasis (Thrush)
Thrush is a fungal infection of the mouth and throat caused by Candidaand while we all have this bacteria to some extent in our bodiespatients with HIV and AIDS often experience an overgrowth which can cause infection. Avoid spicyacidicor hot foods and eat softbland foods such as mashed potatoes or grits. Yogurt may be helpfulbut avoid too much sugaras candida seems to thrive on sugar.

Intestinal Distress
Frequently medications can cause either diarrhea or constipation. For diarrheafoods that can be of help include bananasapplesaucecheesepastaor cooked vegetables. For constipationtry high fiber foodssuch as oatmealprunes and prune juiceand dried beans. Getting in more fluid and exercise can also help.

Food Safety
Food safety is very important for patients with HIV and AIDS. The immune system is compromisedso bacteria such as salmonella or E. Coli will have a much more devastating effect. Ensure meatpoultryfishand eggs are thoroughly cooked. Wash fruits and vegetables wellor eat frozen or canned. Use good food preparation practices to avoid cross-contamination. Avoid foods that are not pasteurizedsuch as some soft cheeses. Hold and store foods safely – hot foods hot and cold foods cold. If you live in an area where water safety is questionablechoose bottled water to drink.

The Association of Nutrition Services Agencies has many Nutrition Fact Sheets that are helpful for patients with HIV and AIDS. Other helpful organizations are the Food and Nutrition Information Center of the USDA and the National Institutes of Health.

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