NUTRITION AND HIV - How Nutrition can support HIV-Positive people

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  • Published on Jan 2, 2019
  • Today we see if proper nutrition can be of support to people with immunodeficiencies and in particular to those who have contracted the HIV virus.
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    Today as you can see from the title, we talk about a rather hot and serious topic. But as always, we try to take it lightly too. With stress and sadness things just tend to worsen.
    So, let's see if proper nutrition can help and support people who are HIV positive. The ones that contracted the HIV virus.
    A disclaimer here is necessary. I'm neither a general practitioner nor an immunologist, but I speak to you from direct experience, in term of Nutritional aspects.
    Having said that, it is very important that this video is for you only a guide, in case you are HIV positive or a video of general knowledge, in case you are here to understand this particular topic
    Well, HIV is a retrovirus that attacks the immune system by creating a chronic situation. If therapy is not followed the outcome is usually fatal in about 10 years from contraction.
    If you follow an antiretroviral therapy, life expectancy is predominantly in the average of the healthy population, although logically there are more risk factors.
    The acronym HIV stands for the English human immunodeficiency virus.
    There are two types: HIV-1 found mainly in Europe, the Americas and central Africa. This is the most virulent strain. Then HIV-2 that develops a much more moderate syndrome and is present in West Africa and Asia.
    The virus attacks a particular type of immune system cell called CD4 +.
    These lymphocytes are so called because the CD4 protein is present on their membrane, which is the one to which the HIV virus binds.
    The CD4 + are the “directors” of our immune system. Their concentration is very variable based on sex and age.
    I call them directors of the immune system because their function is to get in contact with the pathogens and basically take a mould of their genetic material and then transfer this information to the centres of our immune system, which are accountable to the creation of white blood cells, which are specific to that pathogen.
    How we can help our immune system to be strong, in order to assist the role of antiretroviral therapies. Let's divide things into points. The first two points are more related to the changes to be made in our lifestyle. The following ones instead are peculiar to Nutrition. I want to point out that, I won’t give you advice on what to eat. But how to eat to avoid damaging or overloading our organism or our main organs.
    The first advice I have to give you is to do physical activity. HIV and medicines can affect a lot on the physical and psychological state. Some medicines can reduce appetite and cause a feeling of perennial fatigue
    The second advice I want to give you is to minimize alcohol and smoke.
    Smoking in particular. As you understand well, the respiratory system is the first point of contact that our immune system has with pathogens. This, of course, increases the risk of opportunistic infections.
    The Third advice is to respect the warnings about drug interactions with food. In fact, many drugs have some very important precautions to follow.
    The fourth advice I want to give you is to keep a healthy liver. Alcohol abuse can overburden our liver, by causing the steatosis of the liver
    The Fifth advice is to maintain cholesterol levels at optimum values.HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol, should be kept at optimal levels, through the use in the kitchen of legumes, use of wholegrain flours, possibly stone-ground ones, using oils predominantly rich in unsaturated fats. Extra virgin olive Oil or corn for example and avoiding as much as possible ones like coconut or palm oil.
    Finally, I wanted to talk about the consumption of green tea. A study was conducted, then published by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical immunology related to Epigallocatechin-3-gallate, with the acronym EGCG. This chemical compound is an antioxidant, present in the tea leaves. The one in the green tea tends to oxidize slower than the one in the black one.

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    REFERENCES:
    HIV- Consigli sull’alimentazione e stili di vita per mantenersi sani- di Nadir Onlus (in ITALIAN): www.nadironlus.org/download/alimentazionestilidivita.pdf
    Study on Green Tea and HIV: www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(06)01763-5/fulltext

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