Making Smart Nutrition Choices for HIV

Written by | HIV, Wellness


Nutrition can be a complex subject to begin with, but when living with HIV, there may be additional dietary concerns to keep yourself feeling healthy. We spoke to holistic health coach Timothy Stahl ( and took away helpful information about managing your diet.

Vitamin Minimums

Make whole organic foods the cornerstones of your diet and be certain you are getting all the nutrition you need. People living with HIV may have trouble absorbing certain vitamins and minerals — such as zinc, iron, selenium and B12, so make sure to consult with your doctor and dietitian to stay aware of any nutrients lacking in your diet. But also discuss any dietary or herbal supplements with your health team before taking them, as they can interact with certain medications.

Protein Please

People living with HIV may have higher protein needs, as protein is important to the body’s function on the cellular level — including repairing damage and building new cells; it’s also essential for creating hormones, enzymes and parts of the immune system. Sources of protein can include lean meat, poultry, fish, low-fat dairy, eggs and legumes, but for optimal health, experts recommend limiting your intake of red meat to once or twice a month or fully investing in a fish and plant-based diet.

Safety First

Food poisoning is not fun for anyone, but if your immune system is weakened, you may be even more vulnerable. So avoid eating raw animal products or drinking water from lakes or rivers. Wash fruits and vegetables and use separate knives and cutting boards when preparing raw meat and produce.

Count on Calories

When you are not feeling well because of symptoms or side effects, good nutrition becomes even more crucial for recovery — though you may not be inclined to eat. Talk to your dietitian about strategies to pack calories into your day even when going through periods when eating is a challenge.

Also read Six Superfoods to Start Eating Now

Last modified: July 10, 2018