Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Renewed Hope For Aids/hiv: Nutrition For Aids And Hiv Infected Patients

This is a continual piece of my AIDS article series: Little known facts about AIDS, and Understanding AIDS/HIV: Unveiling the hidden facts.

Known as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, AIDS is a complicated disorder, in which the patient is infected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV. This virus kills white blood cells causing the immune system to be compromised to a stage that it is not able to fight off infections.

While ongoing research is still carrying on to help find a cure for AIDS patients, there is currently no cure for this unpredictable health condition. Scientists have worked painstakingly to find vaccines and drugs which may help delay the progression of this deadly disease which takes millions of lives worldwide every year.

AIDS and HIV infected patients are constantly facing a threat on nutritional deficiency and rapid weight loss. At times, nutritional and lifestyle changes, as well as supplements prescribed or recommended by health professionals might be a possible way to help curb AIDS to progress rapidly towards its chronic stage.

Nutrition therapy with an emphasis on a proper and balanced diet can help maintain a stronger immune system and proper functioning of cells, thereby reducing the progression of the disease, particularly in preventing symptoms and health problems related with HIV/AIDS. This nutritional approach should take a high priority from the moment one is diagnosed with HIV positive. Considering the patients are prone to malnutrition due to reduced food intake in the early stages of HIV infection, this therapy may be more effective in comparison to the chronic stage when the patient's nutrient stores is depleted by repeated infections and hypermetabolism at a tremendous speed!

Lifestyle Change

Most AIDS/HIV patients have a major risk of experiencing wasting syndrome, whereby they tend to lose strength easily and lean body mass. In such a case, anabolic steroids are utilized to address this complication. Since the infection can cause a gradual result of lean muscle implying a sign of advanced AIDS, the patients are advised to undergo progressive resistance training including weight training to substitute the medication therapy.

In order to increase lean body mass, patients are recommended to have about 3 times per week of resistance training (such as weight-lifting, and push-ups) for eight consecutive weeks. The research has proved that those who had resistance training 3-4 times per week were able to help slow down AIDS progression to death.

Besides resistance training, HIV infected patients can also benefit from aerobic or cardio exercise such as skating, swimming, running, walking fast, biking which help promote weight loss if they gain more weight. This will help improve the heart health and immune system. To benefit from this exercise, the patients need 20 minutes and at least 3-4 times a week to carry out this activity.

Traditional Medications

There are many types of herbs available, and are very helpful to HIV-infected patients. St. John's wort, turmeric, Asian ginseng, maitakereishimshiitake, tea tree oil, licorice, garlic and andrographis are some of the most common herbs used primarily to slow-down the progression of AIDS. However, caution should be exercised as many questionable products available in the market claiming to be a remarkable cure and some are them are just misleading health claims. Ironically, many herbal drugs may cause allergies, swelling or irritation among HIV patients so the usage of herbal mixture or herb medications should get prior approval from a doctor. It is advisable to discuss with a qualified doctor whether the usage of these medications are appropriate, so that the patient's nutritional and health status can be monitored closely for any parameter changes.

Weight Maintenance and Nutrition Therapy

Weight maintenance should be a high priority in nutrition therapy. This is because most AIDS patients are more likely to lose weight in addition to muscle loss or suffer from vomiting, loss of appetite (anorexia), vomiting, diarrhea or nausea which can be severe and unresponsive to medication therapy. Even though maintaining a healthy diet can sometimes be difficult for AIDS patients, a diet high in protein and carbohydrates (which can be in the form of fats and carbohydrates to gain more energy to help fight off the advanced stages of HIV infection) is able to achieve the goal of weight maintenance. Rather, the diet with high protein and calories can help curb the occurrence of muscle loss or lean muscle among the patients. (Note: HIV-infected people with an ideal weight require 14-16 calories per pound or 30-35 calories per kg body weight everyday).

HIV positive patients who lose more than 5 percent of their body weight should talk to their doctor immediately as this condition may lead to a possibility of wasting (loss of muscle tissue) syndrome, which in fact, can be life-threatening.

From the moment an individual receives a positive diagnosis for HIV or in the initial stage of detection of HIV, patients are advised to follow immune-enhancing formulas which include arginine, omega-3 fatty acids and nucleotides as well. Additionally, hydrolysed protein may also help reduce the frequency of hospitalization while preventing weight loss in the initial detection/stage of HIV infection.

Due to abnormal intestine function and chronic diarrhea, most patients will undergo a medical condition of protein loss called enteropathy. Consequently, HIV patients are often encouraged to have gluten-free diets to help reduce the episode of diarrhea. During the gluten-free periods, patients are able to gain weight since the chronic diarrhea is under control.

I would not hesitate to recommend patients to consume whole foods (including whole-grain bread, fruits, beans, vegetables, nuts, cereals, seeds) instead of processed foods so that they can obtain higher amount of essential trace elements, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. This is also due to the fact that patients suffer from frequent multiple nutritional deficiencies, and that is a solid reason to have whole foods to help prevent rapid weight loss.

In case patients have a poor appetite, they are encouraged to eat six or more meals in small servings during the course of a day instead of consuming three large servings throughout the day.

Attention: For HIV-infected people, a body mass index (BMI) below 20kg/m2 is regarded as underweight. On the other hand, a BMI above 30kg/m2 is considered obesity which marks the onset of health risks of cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and etc.

Food Safety

It is particularly important for AIDS patients to care for food hygiene to avoid being introduced to food poisoning. Since their immune system is compromised, there is always a higher risk of being infected by bacteria, and most notably campylobacter, shigella, and salmonella. Therefore, AIDS patients should pay special attention to the handling, preparation and cleanliness of food. Because of being infected by bacteria, eating raw food is strongly not recommended.

It is important to note that contaminated food and food-borne illnesses may pose a major risk in people with AIDS/HIV. So, make sure that proper hand washing and personal hygiene are taken into serious consideration.

Nutritional Supplements

It is very common for AIDS patients to suffer from multiple nutritional deficiencies. Also, AIDS itself can have a negative effect on the digestive system making the patients unable to absorb essential minerals and vitamins, in particular vitamins B6, riboflavin, folate, B12 and thiamine effectively, thereby they should benefit from a broad spectrum of nutritional supplements. Recent research shows that patients who consume appropriate amounts of multivitamin-mineral supplementations on a daily basis generally have a lower progression of this disease or a slower onset of AIDS. Having said that mineral pills and multiple vitamin supplements can benefit AIDS patients, any supplementation with over one percent of the recommended dietary allowance should be monitored by a qualified doctor with care.

Vitamin E has been proven to enhance the effectiveness of the anti-HIV medication zidovudine, or AZT while decreasing the risk of toxicity. In this matter, zinc supplementation also helps protect against AZT toxicity.

Then, a B-complex vitamin supplement is very helpful at delaying progression of AIDS to death. Among AIDS patients, approximately of them are identified to have thiamine or B1 deficiency which is linked to neurological abnormalities.

Also, taking vitamin C can help inhibit HIV replication and simultaneously the risk of progression to death from AIDS. The daily recommended amount used ranges from 40 to 185g, and any higher dosage supplementation than this recommended amount should be administered by a qualified health professional. The recommended dosage is generally used to treat Kaposi's sarcoma and/or herpes simplex outbreak among the HIV patients.

Selenium deficiency is linked to increased risk of mortality among HIV-positive patients. By taking selenium, AIDS patients can benefit from an improved appetite, enhanced heart function, a better intestinal function as well as a reduced rate of infection. Patients with HIV-related cardiomyopathy (or heart abnormalities) are recommended to take 800mg of selenium per day for as long as 15 days, accompanied by 400mg of selenium per day for eight days.

Most HIV infected patients tend to have a lowered level of the coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10 in their blood, so they are encouraged to take 200mg of CoQ10 per day. A clinical trial reveals that HIV infected patients who took 200mg of CoQ10 per day were found to have experienced no further infection up to seven months and improved counts of infection-fighting white blood cells.

Besides CoQ10, the combination of hyroxymethylbutyrate, arginine, glutamine and amino acid derivatives are very helpful for people with AIDS in preventing further loss of body or muscle mass which otherwise would lead to wasting syndrome or an advanced sign of AIDS if left ignored.

Further, vitamin B6 deficiency is very common among people with HIV patients. Due to vitamin B6 deficiency, the patients have a decreased immune function. Besides vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12 is also much needed by HIV patients.

Vitamin A deficiency is associated with increased risk of transmission of virus from a pregnant mother to her baby as well as increased risk of the disease's severity. A research shows that HIV-positive infants which were given two consecutive oral supplements of vitamin A (20 000 IU) in addition to influenza vaccination had displayed a decreased risk in their bodies' viral load. As vitamin A deficiency is common among people with HIV infection, taking vitamin A supplement can help curb AIDS progression.

Then, taking iron supplements can help patients improve immune system response while fighting off bacterial or pathogen infection.

In a recent clinical study, people with HIV infection took 800mg per day of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and it found that most of them had a slow rate of their declining immune function. In practice, an 800mg per day of NAC (the amino acid) supplement is very helpful to inhibit the replication of the HIV virus.

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Final remark:

This article was written with the aim to benefit HIV infected individuals and AIDS patients worldwide. Info contained herein is for educational purpose, and if you are experiencing HIV-related symptoms or complications, please consult your doctor immediately! Also, prior to taking any supplementation or nutrition therapy, please talk to a qualified health professional so that a proper nutritional approach that is suited for your best individual needs can be suggested and your nutritional assessment can be evaluated in an appropriate manner.

Finally, I wish you all a healthy, happy and cheerful life!

Now, you can read more of mycontent at myhealth blogs HealthAssist and Care4your health.

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