he immune system, our body’s defense mechanism against foreign contaminants, has to function at a higher level to fight infections and keep the body safe when a person is infected with the HIV Infection.
Weight loss can be a common problem for people with relatively advanced stages of HIV Infection. HIV may cause reduction in a patient’s appetite, make food taste bad and prevent the body from absorbing nutrients from food in the right way. Good nutrition is important to all people with HIV.
“Proper nutrition is crucial in order to manage abnormalities caused by HIV such as wasting, diarrhea, and lipid abnormalities. Eating well is key in maintaining strength, energy, and a healthy immune system. Food safety and proper hygiene are concerns, when it comes to prevent infections,” said Karthigai Selvi, Chief Dietician, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals.
A healthy diet consists of a variety of foods from all the basic food groups in order to maintain a healthy weight. Proteins, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals and water are the six essential nutrients required for strong immune function.
Vitamin B6, folate, selenium, iron, as well as prebiotics and probiotics influence the immune system. Vitamin A deficiency can interfere with epithelial cell function.
The ability of certain immune cells to kill infectious organisms and the production of B-cells and T-cells are also dependent on their vitamin A status.Beta-carotene, a predecessor to vitamin A, may also be deficient in HIV individuals despite vitamin supplementation.
Collagen synthesis, phagocyte oxidative burst activity, the ability of B-cells and T-cells to work properlyare all due to Vitamin C.
Low blood levels of vitamin B12 is common in patients with HIV infection. Vitamin B12 supplementation is required to improve both T-cell counts and natural killer cell activity.
Vitamin B12 and folate are involved in the production of genetic material. They appear to decrease T-cell responsiveness and natural killer cells’ ability to kill infectious organisms. Vitamin E plays a key role as an antioxidant and anti viral nutrient in cell membranes.
Omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids, found in fish oils, affects immune function. Two fatty acids, eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) decrease inflammation by modulating and influencing the cytokine production of T-cells.
Glutamine is important in maintaining the structure of the intestinal wall, which prevents infectious organisms from migrating across and into the bloodstream. Arginine contributes to the production of nitric oxide, which appears to have the ability to block and cease certain infectious organisms’ activities.
There are countless and intricate relationships between nutritional status, specific nutrients, and the immune system.
As HIV compromises the immune system the most in the body, it is important to maintain proper intake of the required nutrients to help the body fight the infection and minimise the damage and effects from the virus.