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The Importance of Nutrition and Diet in HIV/Aids | Affinity Health

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, discusses the importance of nutrition for HIV and AIDS patients.


Around 36 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS, with 25 million of them in Africa. For many persons living with HIV, good nutrition is the same as it is for the general population.


People need proper nutrition to build immunity. Some adults living with HIV/AIDS experience appetite loss and trouble eating. as a result, they consume fewer calories. This leads them to falling short of meeting their dietary requirements.

What is HIV/AIDS?

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. This is a condition caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV attacks and damages the body’s natural defensive system against sickness and infection. HIV is a slow-acting virus that can cause sickness in a person over a period of years.


An HIV-positive person’s defensive system is in danger. Other viruses, bacteria, and parasites take advantage of this “opportunity.” They further weaken the body and cause a variety of ailments. HIV can lead to pneumonia, tuberculosis, and oral thrush, for example.


When an individual develops opportunistic infections, he or she has AIDS. HIV infection takes different amounts of time to progress to full-blown AIDS. The time HIV takes to progress depends on one’s state of health and level of nutrition.

What Does a Balanced Diet Look Like?

For an HIV-positive individual, the goal of living is to live “positively.” Living positively refers to being disease-free, productive, and emotionally and physically healthy. Dietary habits are critical for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Eat Small but Frequent Meals:

People living with HIV need to meet daily energy, protein and micronutrient requirements. They should eat smaller portions so that the stomach can absorb foods. They should also eat small meals as often as they can during the day.

Maintain Your Body Mass:

Try to maintain a body mass index, or BMI, of at least 18.5 kg/m2 or greater) and avoid weight loss. Try to stimulate appetite by eating your favourite foods. Select foods that are more energy dense.

Eat a Variety of Foods:

Maintaining adequate nutritional status means consuming a variety of foods. These foods include beans, nuts, animal foods, rice, potato, maize, fruits and vegetables. Always select body-building foods (such as proteins) to form the core of the meal.

Prevent Dehydration:

Drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration (soups, diluted fruit juices, boiled water).

Nutrition and HIV: Special Issues

Different bodies have different responses to HIV. It is possible that you may encounter adverse reactions to HIV medications. Here are some helpful hints for resolving some of the most prevalent issues.

Vomiting And Nausea
  • Avoid foods that are oily or spicy, as well as foods that have a strong aroma.
  • Drink ginger tea or ginger ale.
  • Choose cold foods over heated foods.
  • Take a break between meals.
  • Consult your physician for anti-nausea drugs.
  • Limit your intake of milk and caffeinated beverages.
  • Steer clear of fatty foods.
  • For a brief period, try the B.R.A.T. diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast).
Excessive Weight Loss
  • Increase your intake of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
  • Snack on dried fruits or nuts.
  • Consult your physician regarding the addition of a nutritional supplement.
Problems with Mouth Sores and Swallowing
  • Consume meals that are soft, such as yogurt or mashed potatoes.
  • Avoid foods that are acidic, such as oranges, lemons, and tomatoes.
  • Consult your physician to ensure you are not suffering from an opportunistic infection or require additional diagnostic testing.
Lipodermatosclerosis (Fat Redistribution Syndrome)
  • Reduce your intake of fat, particularly saturated and trans fats.
  • Consume unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods such as salmon and tuna.
  • Limit your intake of alcohol and refined sugars.
  • Consume more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables that are high in fibre.
Learn More: HIV Cover – Benefits from Affinity Health

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance. We offer a wide range of cover options at affordable rates. Medical cover includes access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to always give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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