Understanding Nutritional Wellness and HIV

Healthy Nutrition

It’s possible – even easy – to support your immune system with proper nutrition.

By Carol Wolin, MA RD LD

 

“But, I have HIV” is an expression I often hear when discussing nutrition with my clients. My response is that malnutrition never benefitted anyone’s health, but good nutritional foundations lay the framework for energy, muscle strength and tone, well-functioning organ systems, and a stronger immune system and response.

 

What we need to know about food safety:

Food-borne illnesses can be more intense in symptomology and have a longer lasting duration for people living with HIV. Observing certain food safety guidelines will help to prevent illness from food and food bacteria.

  • Keep all counters and utensils clean.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked foods, including raw or runny eggs.
  • Raw fish: Eat sushi made with only cooked fish.
  • Avoid food left sitting out on a table or buffet for long periods of time. Food is more likely to spoil if it is left at room temperature for longer than two (2) hours.

 

Nutrition tips to live by:

Nutrition supplements can help provide nutrients the body needs to function well. A multivitamin may help to provide nutrients to repair and heal any damaged cells, though we suggest avoiding gummy multivitamins.

  • Carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, and pasta help provide energy to the body. Too much simple carbohydrate in the form of sugar, honey, high fructose corn syrup and agave often provide too much energy that the body does not use and excess energy gets stored as fat.
  • Protein helps maintain muscle mass and the immune system. Choose lean pork, beef, poultry, fish, low fat cheese, fully cooked eggs, and seafood.
  • Fat provides extra energy and carries fat-soluble vitamins. Only 30% of the calories eaten daily should be from fat sources.
  • Limit fried foods eaten daily.

Good nutrition is just one of the pillars that support good health and a stronger immune system when living with HIV.