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    What to Eat When You Have HIV

    By Sharon Liao
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD

    There’s no specific eating plan for people with HIV, but an overall healthy diet can help your health a lot.

    Having the virus weakens your immune system. Because your body uses nutrients to keep up its defenses against germs, eating well can help you fight off infections. It can also boost your energy, keep you strong, help you avoid health complications, and ease issues brought on by HIV and its treatments.

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    Follow these simple tips to get started.

    1. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. They’re high in nutrients called antioxidants, which protect your immune system. Aim to have at least five to nine servings of produce each day. An easy way to meet that goal is to fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies at each meal. Eat a lot of different produce to get the most vitamins and minerals.

    2. Go for lean protein. Your body uses it to build muscle and a strong immune system. Choose low-fat options like lean beef, poultry, eggs, beans, and nuts.

    You may need to eat more protein if you’re underweight or in an advanced stage of HIV. Your doctor can help you figure out the right amount for you.

    3. Choose whole grains. Like gas in a car, carbs give your body energy.

    That makes whole-grain carbs, like brown rice and whole wheat bread, high-end fuel.

    They're packed with energy-boosting B vitamins and fiber. And when you eat plenty of fiber, that can lower your chances of getting fat deposits called lipodystrophy, a potential side effect of HIV.

    4. Limit your sugar and salt. Whether because of the virus or the treatment drugs you’re taking, HIV raises your risk of getting heart disease. Too much sugar and sodium can harm your ticker. So shoot to get less than 10% of your calories each day from foods and drinks with added sugar. You should also have no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.

    5. Have healthy fats in moderation. Fat provides energy, but it’s also high in calories. If you’re not trying to gain weight, limit how much you eat. Heart-healthy choices include nuts, vegetable oils, and avocado.

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