The Best Foods for HIV Patients

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If you have HIV, you understand the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle in order to keep illness at bay. With lower immune system functionality, even the slightest microbe can cause major harm. One of the most important ways to keep healthy and treat the disease is through diet. A healthy diet is as important for HIV patients as any of the medications or treatments they are taking.

A diet rich in protein and carbohydrates can be helpful for HIV patients.
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Proteins are extremely important for your diet as they are the building blocks of your cells, muscles, organs, and more importantly, immune system. If you body doesn't get the protein it needs from food, it will start using the protein it has stored up which can result in a weakening of your immune system. A good rule of thumb for an HIV positive person is 100 to 150 grams of protein per day for men, and 80 to 100 grams of protein per day for women.

A plate of grilled salmon with vegetables.
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Carbohydrates are what gives a person energy. Make sure that your diet is high in complex carbohydrates like grains and legumes and low in simple carbohydrates like candy and soda. While eating the complex carbohydrates, try to focus on foods such as white bread, pasta and potatoes. These carbohydrates are richer in nutrients and the body absorbs them slower, helping to sustain you while you are between meals.

Penne pasta and marinara sauce.
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While carbohydrates help you get energy, fat is what helps the body store energy for later use. For HIV positive people, doctors recommend a fat intake of less than 30 percent of your daily caloric intake. Also make sure you are getting the appropriate amounts of fat. Sometimes, people with HIV experience an increase in cholesterol because of their medications. Therefore it is important to watch your fat consumption. It is recommended that of that 30 percent, 7 percent be saturated fat from foods like whole milk, butter and fatty meats. The rest of the fat should come from nuts, fish, seeds, canola oil and soy.

A man eats cashews from a bowl.
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In order to maintain a healthy weight, you need to watch your calorie intake. A person with HIV actually needs to increase his calorie intake in order to maintain his weight. You should be getting 17 to 20 calories per pound every day. If you have been losing weight, you will need to increase that to 30 calories per pound a day until your weight goes back up.

With HIV, it is extremely imperative that you pay attention to all food safety rules. If you think any food is spoiled, don't eat it. Make sure you either wash all fruits and vegetables or, if you are eating out, order ones you can peel. Use different cutting boards for meat and vegetables and wash them with soap and water if you can. Make sure you always wash your hands after using the restroom or changing any diaper.

A woman washes fresh strawberries.
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