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Aids And Nutrition

The AIDS/HIV virus is no longer big news but of course it is still a massive problem. At the end of 2009 it has been estimated that 33 million people were living with AIDS and 16 million orphans were created when their parents died of the disease.

During discussions on nutritional health and natural dietary supplements it has been mentioned that certain vitamins and minerals might be good for the immune system. The AIDS/HIV virus is of course an attack on the immune system so surely nutritional health could impact on the treatment or prevention of the disease?

In truth, each AIDS sufferer needs different nutrients so the advice seems to be for them to ensure they eat a balanced diet and then consult a nutritional health specialist who can perhaps recommend a set course of natural dietary supplements suited to the individual.

In many illnesses the sufferers can require more calories than the average person as the body is disrupted by the disease. This is certainly the case with AIDS and is the reason why the loss of body weight is such a problem with them.

Bad nutritional health is an aspect of AIDS for several reasons.

Firstly, the virus affects the absorption of nutrients into the gut as it damages the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

As it is the immune system that is attacked other conditions, termed Opportunistic Infections (OI), attack the body and cause further nutritional health complications. Many cause vomiting for example, which obviously removes nutrients before they can be absorbed.

Medications used can often have side effects, which affect the intake of food. Again, vomiting and diarrhoea are possible and the use of antibiotics may kill off beneficial bacteria in the gut. In any case, the disease causes sufferers to lose appetite.

The attack of the AIDS/HIV virus alters the metabolism of the body and the processing and use of nutrients, so affecting nutritional health. In addition the response of the immune system uses more energy. The amount of calories and vitamins and minerals used is therefore greatly increased. Nutritional health can also be damaged by hormonal changes, which are a feature of the disease.

As we have seen previously, nutritional deficiencies damage the immune system and, in the case of AIDS/HIV this simply serves to deepen the damage wrought by the virus. It becomes a vicious circle. A reduction in the vitamins A, C, E and the B complexes as well as minerals selenium and zinc cause particular problems as they affect cell immunity antibodies.

In the treatment of AIDS/HIV, more consideration is now given to nutritional health immediately the diagnosis is made to try to reduce the worst effects of the virus. Let’s hope the more we understand the processes going on, the more we can get closer to reducing the instances and severity of this terrible disease.

More information on nutritional health and AIDS/HIV can be found at The Body.com

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