Health of HIV Infected People: Food, Nutrition and Lifestyle with Antiretroviral Drugs

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Note: If you have diarrhea or are vomiting, you will lose a lot of fluids and will need to drink more than usual. For more information, see the medication side effects and symptoms section. Our bodies need vitamins and minerals, in small amounts, to keep our cells working properly. They are essential to our staying healthy.

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People with HIV need extra vitamins and minerals to help repair and heal cells that have been damaged. Even though vitamins and minerals are present in many foods, your health care provider may recommend a vitamin and mineral supplement a pill or other form of concentrated vitamins and minerals.

While vitamin and mineral supplements can be useful, they can't replace eating a healthy diet. Always take vitamin pills on a full stomach. Take them regularly.


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Some vitamins and minerals, if taken in high doses, can be harmful. Talk with your health care provider before taking high doses of any supplement. Paying attention to food and water safety is important when you have HIV, because your immune system is already weakened and working hard to fight off infections. If food is not handled or prepared in a safe way, germs from the food can be passed on to you. These germs can make you sick.

Keep everything clean! Clean your counters and utensils often. Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after preparing and eating food.

Check expiration dates on food packaging. Do not eat foods that are past the expiration date.

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Health of HIV Infected People

Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables with clean water. Thaw frozen meats and other frozen foods in the refrigerator or in a microwave. Never thaw foods at room temperature. Germs that grow at room temperature can make you very sick. Clean all cutting boards and knives especially those that touch chicken and meat with soap and hot water before using them again.

Make sure you cook all meat, fish, and poultry "well-done. Put the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat, not touching a bone. Cook the meat until it reaches degrees F. Do not eat raw, soft-boiled, or "over easy" eggs, or Caesar salads with raw egg in the dressing. This includes eating uncooked cookie dough or cake batter that contains uncooked eggs. Do not eat sushi, raw seafood, or raw meats, or unpasteurized milk or dairy products. Keep your refrigerator cold, set no higher than 40 degrees F.

Your freezer should be at 0 degrees. Refrigerate leftovers at temperatures below 40 degrees F. Do not eat leftovers that have been sitting in the refrigerator for more than 3 days. Keep hot items heated to over degrees F, and completely reheat leftovers before eating.

Throw away any foods like fruit, vegetables, and cheese that you think might be old. If food has a moldy or rotten spot, throw it out. When in doubt, throw it out. Some germs and parasites are spread through tap water. If your public water supply isn't totally pure, drink bottled water. Many symptoms of HIV, as well as the side effects caused by HIV medicines, can be alleviated by using or avoiding certain types of foods and drinks. Try the BRAT diet bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Try some ginger--in tea, ginger ale, or ginger snaps these need to be made with real ginger root.

Don't drink liquids at the same time you eat your meals. Eat something small, such as crackers, before getting out of bed. Keep something in your stomach; eat a small snack every hours. Avoid foods such as the following: Fatty, greasy, or fried foods Very sweet foods candy, cookies, or cake Spicy foods Foods with strong odors. Avoid hard or crunchy foods such as raw vegetables.

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Try eating cooked vegetables and soft fruits such as bananas and pears. Avoid very hot foods and beverages.


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Cold and room temperature foods will be more comfortable to your mouth. Do not eat spicy foods. They can sting your mouth. Try soft foods such as mashed potatoes, yogurt, and oatmeal. Also try scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, macaroni and cheese, and canned fruits. Rinse your mouth with water. This can moisten your mouth, remove bits of food, and make food taste better to you. Stay away from oranges, grapefruit, and tomatoes. They have a lot of acid and can sting your mouth. Keep your body's fluids up hydrated with water or other liquids those that don't have caffeine.

Limit sodas and other sugary drinks.


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Avoid greasy and spicy foods. High-fat foods can make diarrhea worse in some situations.

Health of HIV Infected People - 1st Edition

Avoid milk and other dairy products. Eat small meals and snacks every hour or two. You may feel that many things are out of your control if you have HIV. But you can control what you eat and drink, and how much. Good nutrition is an important part of your plan to stay well. Eating right can make your body and your immune system stronger. When you are HIV-positive, you may need to eat more. Be sure to eat a diet that is high in proteins and calories. Exercise can stimulate your appetite and make you feel like eating more.

Drink plenty of liquids to help your body deal with any medications you are taking. If you are vomiting or have diarrhea, you will need to drink more than usual.