UN Food, Health Agencies: Nutrition a Tool in Fight Against AIDS
February 26, 2003
A good diet can help people better cope with AIDS and may even help delay disease progression by boosting defenses, the UN food and health agencies said Tuesday.Adapted from:
Releasing a 97-page guide, "Living Well with HIV/AIDS," for health workers, patients and their families, the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization said they wanted to offer practical solutions for the 42 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, particularly in poor countries where drugs and health care are scarce.
By bolstering the immune system and energy levels and preventing malnutrition, food is a tool which helps the body fight back, they said. "Food isn't a magic bullet. It won't stop people dying of AIDS," said William Clay, a nutrition specialist at Rome-based FAO. "But it can help them live longer, more comfortable and more productive lives."
Patients are advised to eat more protein to rebuild muscle, use vitamin-rich foods like fruit to boost their immune system, and drink more to avoid dehydration.
But HIV/AIDS also blunts a patient's appetite and can cause soreness of the mouth, making it hard to eat. The UN guide focuses on basic ways to help sufferers eat, suggesting inexpensive recipes for soups, teas and stews that are easier for patients to swallow and contain immune system-boosting vitamins and minerals. The recipes use fruit and vegetables that grow in rural areas of the developing world, like guava, papaya and baobab fruit. The guide also suggests ways to use herbs to boost appetite and help digestion, and it shows how to make simple rehydration drinks and cough syrups using ingredients like honey and lemon.
FAO and WHO said they also are running a nutrition training course for health workers in South Africa and plan to expand the program. The guide is available online at www.fao.org.
02.25.03; Jonathan Fowler
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.