AIDS is secondary to infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes the irreversible destruction of the immune system, and increased susceptibility to viral, bacterial, and fungal infections normally insignificant in the patient with a healthy immune system.
Eating a well balanced diet can have an impact on how the immune system works. The immune system, the body's defense against disease, is normally equipped to fight off infections and microorganisms in the environment. If bacteria or a virus invades the body, specialized cells (lymphocytes) are activated to fight the infection. This important, functional aspect of the immune system is damaged in patients who suffer from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Good nutritional habits are important for anyone with a weakened immune system. Eating both the proper amounts and types of foods will provide the body with energy, protein, and nutrients needed during an illness. Meeting the daily caloric requirements is necessary for maintaining body weight. Caloric needs may be twice the pre-illness requirement. Consuming adequate protein each day is essential for maintaining muscle mass, minimizing infection, and building body tissue. Eating a wide variety of foods, particularly those that are nutrient dense, is one of the best ways to meet these daily nutritional needs.
Tips for increasing the intake
- add milk, honey, sugar, margarine, or butter to hot cereals, soups, and gravies, use fat in cooking and at the table
-add dry milk powder to mashed potatoes, casseroles, soups, pudding, and milk drinks
- drink whole milk or half and half rather than low fat milk
- spread peanut butter on toast, waffles, bananas, or apples
- use sour cream, mayonnaise, whipped cream, jelly, honey, and syrup
- add a slice of cheese to scrambled eggs, sandwiches, hamburgers, and apple pie
- snack on nuts, cheese, hard boiled eggs, and hard candies
- try Instant Breakfast drinks or commercially prepared supplements