Healthy diet ensures longer life despite HIV infection
Proper observance of food hygiene can enable a person living with the HIV/AIDS to live for a long time even without the assistance of a retroviral drug (ARV).
Dr Joyceline Kaganda, a nutrition expert in the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC) said that many people in the country did not practise a satisfactory standard of hygiene, an act that is likely to expose those living with HIV to opportunistic infections that worsen their health.
In an exclusive interview with the ‘Sunday News’ in Dar es Salaam recently, Dr Kaganda explained it is possible for HIV positive people to live longer without taking a form of ARV drug. “What is needed is to test for HIV early enough before symptoms of HIV infection appears,” she says.
She says it is easier to observe healthy eating and lifestyle than taking ARV drugs forever as most of them have horrible side effects to some people. “Some of the metabolic complications associated with ARV have nutrition complications. They include abnormal metabolism and deposition of lipids (lipodystriphy),” and elevated concentrations of cholesterol and triglycerides.
She advised people to regularly go for a thorough health check to determine their health status so that they
can be put on ART only when it is necessary. “It is unwise to wait until your health is irreparable to go for a health check,” she said. In one of its nutritional pamphlets, TFNC says people living with HIV do not necessarily have to use food supplements.
According to the booklet, Maswali na majibu yanayohusu lishe na Ukimwi, all that is needed is a balanced diet. It suggests coagulated milk (mtindi) because it is digested fast and so facilitates digestion of other nutrients and their absorption. The booklet emphasizes intake of honey because it is rich in nutrients.
Honey has also proved to have antibiotic values and rich in energy. It can be used in the treatment of fungus, throat and vaginal sores. The booklet suggests eating garlic for it has power to kill bacteria, viruses and fungus in many parts of the body such a in the mouth, lungs and other openings of the body. “Garlic helps to treat throat infections, skin blisters and diarrhoea,” the booklet informs.
Beer or any other alcoholic drinks are not advisable because of their nature to reduce appetite of a person. Again red meat such as that of cow, goat or sheep is not advisable for people living with HIV. These people should eat white meat such as
that of poultry, fish.
“Red meat takes too long to digest,” the document says. “To expedite its digestion, it needs chewing for a long time, cooking with spices to soften it like lemon, raw pawpaw, ginger and garlic.” Moringa oliefera, the booklet adds, is particularly important because it is rich in potassium, copper, vitamin A, B and C.
It also has considerable amount of protein. Dr Hafidh Amir, the Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) representative in the Coast Region adds that the whole basis of good health is good diet. “Well balanced diet in a hygienic condition, enables one living with the virus to maintain a high number CD4 count. The onset of HIV symptoms begins when the count is 350,” Dr Amir explains.
“But a healthy good diet will delay dropping to this level. Normally a healthy person’s CD count is not below 1500,” he says. Supportive, Dr Aroldia Mulokozi, a research officer with TACAIDS, says people living with HIV/AIDS need to have a good nutritional base. “A good, healthy diet is complementary to a person with HIV needs to lengthen their life,” she said.
By LAWI JOEL, Tanzania Daily News
Do you have a story or an article to publish? Please email us to email@example.com.