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Nutrition and HIV/AIDS


The Basic Principles of Nutrition and HIV continued...

Fat provides extra energy. To get enough of the right kinds of fat:

  • Get 30% of your daily calories from fat.
  • Get 10% or more of your daily calories from monounsaturated fats.
    Examples: nuts, seeds, avocado, fish, and canola and olive oils
  • Get less than 10% of your daily calories from polyunsaturated fats.
    Examples: fish, walnuts, flaxseed, and corn, sunflower, soybean, and safflower oil
  • Get less than 7% of your daily calories from saturated fats.
    Examples: fatty meat, poultry with skin, butter, whole-milk dairy foods, and coconut and palm oils.

Vitamins and minerals regulate your body's processes. People who are HIV-positive need extra vitamins and minerals to help repair and heal damaged cells. Eat foods high in these vitamins and minerals, which can help boost your immune system:

  • Vitamin A and beta-carotene: dark green, yellow, orange, or red vegetables and fruit; liver; whole eggs; milk
  • B vitamins: meat, fish, chicken, grains, nuts, white beans, avocados, broccoli, and green leafy vegetables
  • Vitamin C: citrus fruits
  • Vitamin E: green leafy vegetables, peanuts, and vegetable oils
  • Selenium: whole grains, nuts, poultry, fish, eggs, and peanut butter
  • Zinc: meat, poultry, fish, beans, peanuts, and milk and other dairy products

Because it is difficult to get enough of all the nutrients you need from foods, your health care provider may recommend a multivitamin/mineral tablet (without extra iron). Check the label to make sure it provides 100% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Discuss with your doctor what you're taking -- more is not always better. If you don't eat at least three servings of high-calcium (green leafy veggies or dairy) foods each day, you might need to add a calcium supplement to your diet. This is becoming controversial however and more research is being done on this topic.


Nutrition and HIV: Coping with Special Problems

Your body may have a variety of responses to HIV and you may also experience side effects from medications. Here are tips for dealing with some of the most common problems.

Nausea and vomiting

  • Try bland, low-fat foods, such as plain pasta, canned fruit, or plain broth
  • Eat smaller meals every one to two hours.
  • Avoid greasy or spicy foods, or foods with strong odors.
  • Drink ginger tea or ginger ale.
  • Eat more cold foods and fewer hot foods.
  • Rest between meals, but don't lie flat.
  • Ask your doctor about nausea medications.


  • Drink more fluids than usual. Try diluted juices or Gatorade.
  • Limit milk and sugary or caffeinated drinks.
  • Eat slowly and more frequently.
  • Avoid greasy foods.
  • Try the B.R.A.T. diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) for a brief time.
  • Instead of fresh produce, try well-cooked vegetables or canned ones.
  • Try calcium carbonate supplements or fiber supplements like Metamucil wafers.
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