Mar 16, 2002
I've just read a story from the CDC news update (11th march) on nutritianal suppliments.
It says that a "standard enteral nutritional formulas with those of an enterotropic, peptide-based formula enriched with n-3 fatty acids" raised patients CD4 counts. Firstly, what does that mean? Secondly, would it be possible to alter my diet to include some foods which would have a similar effect and do you think it would realistically raise my CD4 count?
Response from Ms. Fields-Gardner
This study was reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in December 2001. There is some history of work looking into both protein supplementation and n-3 fatty acid supplementation and their effects on weight gain, body composition, and immune-related markers.
The fact that they saw some improvement in CD4 count in the 36 patients receiving the special formula over the 38 patients who received a standard formula could be attributed to a number of things. Nutritional improvement that allows the body a better shot at reducing the number of infections and hospitalizations that challenge immune function in HIV infection because of a more easily digested form of protein may have something to do with it. But, nutritional intervention in the form of calories and protein typically shows more effect on CD8 than on CD4 count.
N-3 (omega-three) fatty acids are found in fish, flaxseed, and and other types of oils. These have been considered a weak anticytokine agent (as reported in a study on fish oil therapy in 1996). In a Swiss study in 1998 researchers suggested that the 32 patients who received arginine and n-3 fatty acid supplements did not benefit over the 32 patients who did not receive the additives. But, if there is a benefit to be had, the next question would be: "Can the benefit be sustained?"
Is there something to the supplementation of peptides and n-3 fatty acid supplementation? While the effect appears to be small (and probably a bit more complex that we have discussed), you could hedge your bets (so to speak) dietary-wise by choosing fish as a part of your food intake two to three times a week and reduce the amount of other saturated fats and n-6 intense oils you take in (like lard, vegetable oils, and such). While you are at it, you may as well consider including some brightly colored fruits and vegetables to complement the effect you are looking for!
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