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Nutrition

Michael Carter

This booklet is intended to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about food, nutrition and living with HIV. It outlines how to eat well to stay well, as well as covering some of the dietary changes you may need to make to maximise absorption of anti-HIV drugs or deal with certain side-effects of HIV treatment. It also gives advice on how to maintain a healthy weight and on food safety.

The information in this booklet isn’t intended to replace discussion with your doctor about your HIV treatment and care, but it may help you to think about questions you would like to ask your healthcare team.

Nutrition is also available online in French.

  • Healthy eating

    Good nutrition is important for everyone’s health. Nutrition plays an important role in the health of the immune system and its ability to fight infection. Healthy eating...

  • Vitamins and minerals

    Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that our body needs in order to work properly. These nutrients occur naturally in food. Most people can get all the vitamins and minerals they need...

  • Herbal remedies

    Many people use herbal remedies to supplement their diet. It is always important to do this with caution and to tell your doctor and/or HIV pharmacist what...

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

    As for anyone, it’s important to maintain a healthy body weight when you have HIV. Being overweight or underweight can cause problems for your health. Maintaining a healthy...

  • Eating well on a budget

    If you are having difficulty affording food, or buying food that you need for a special diet, a member of your healthcare team can put you in...

  • Dietitians

    You can get advice on nutrition from a specially trained health professional called a dietitian. Some HIV clinics have specialist dietitians, or can refer you to dietitians,...

  • Alcohol

    There is no evidence that moderate alcohol consumption by people with HIV is harmful unless they have other medical conditions, such as hepatitis. Many people find that...

  • Water and other fluids

    It is important to stay properly hydrated to ensure that the body has enough fluid (liquid) to function properly. In the UK, it’s recommended we drink about...

  • Food safety

    If you have a strong immune system, your risk of getting food poisoning is no greater than it is for an HIV-negative person. If you have a...

  • Your diet and anti-HIV drugs

    Choosing a drug combination that you can fit into your existing eating habits is usually easier than trying to adjust your eating habits to fit the drugs. There...

  • Managing side-effects that interfere with eating

    Like all medicines, the drugs used to treat HIV can cause side-effects. These are most likely to occur when you first start taking a drug, but they...

  • Avoiding and managing weight loss

    The improvements in health that accompany treatment with anti-HIV drugs include improvements in body weight. However, weight loss can be a very serious issue for people with HIV,...

  • HIV treatment, metabolic changes and ageing

    Anti-HIV drugs can cause changes inside your body, known as metabolic changes. These can include: changes to blood fats (also called lipids), such as having too much low-density (LDL, or...

  • Conditions related to metabolic changes and ageing

    Some older anti-HIV drugs are associated with changes in body shape (a condition called lipodystrophy), involving fat loss or fat gain in certain parts of the body....

  • Other conditions

    The liver has many important functions in the body. For people with HIV, it plays a vital role in processing the drugs used to treat HIV. Some...

  • Summary

    If your normal diet is balanced, this should be sufficient to meet your nutritional requirements – HIV alone rarely means that people have to make major changes...

Nutrition

Published August 2011

Last reviewed August 2011

Next review July 2014

Contact NAM to find out more about the scientific research and information used to produce this booklet.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.