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HIV: Why Healthy Eating Matters

Topic Overview

Eating a nutritious, balanced diet is an important part of treating HIV. Good nutrition can help your immune system stay strong, which in turn may help your body fight HIV. Knowing the best way to nourish your body will help keep it strong and allow your HIV medicines to work effectively.

It is important to maintain lean muscle mass while fighting HIV. Maintaining a healthy weight can be a challenge because weight loss is common with HIV and is a side effect of some HIV medications. You may also have digestive problems associated with HIV or its treatment. Sometimes you just won't feel like eating.

Getting enough protein and calories may help your immune system fight the HIV infection and improve your overall health. Nutritional counselling has been shown to improve your health while living with HIV. Your doctor may periodically assess your diet after you are diagnosed with HIV.footnote 1 If you have trouble eating or maintaining your weight, a registered dietitian or your doctor can provide you with information to improve your diet.

Cannabis (marijuana) has also been shown to stimulate the appetite of people with HIV. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in trying it.

References

Citations

  1. Nerad J, et al. (2003). General nutrition management in patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 36(Suppl 2): S52–S62.

Credits

Current as ofJuly 30, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Peter Shalit MD, PhD - Internal Medicine

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