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Living with HIV: Understanding the Importance of Healthy Diets and Lifestyles for People with HIV

HIV continues to spread throughout the world, and the frightening part is that there's still no effective cure for it. UNAIDS reports that about 38.4 million people globally are living with HIV as of 2021. Out of all these people, about 28.7 million are undergoing antiretroviral therapy to manage the infection and improve their overall quality of health.
But since living with HIV can be tough, people need to make immunity-boosting lifestyle changes that can complement medical interventions. If you’re struggling with HIV yourself, strengthen your body and your mind while enjoying the most out of life by making these lifestyle changes:

Increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables in your diet for your immunity

While there is no typical diet for HIV, the right consumption of fruits and vegetables can help manage the condition's most common symptoms.
For instance, our article on the HIV Diet Plan points out how dietitians recommend boosting your intake of nutrients from fruits and vegetables to help your immune system recover against diseases. If you're experiencing symptoms like loss of appetite, dietitians can also incorporate your favorite food into your meals while balancing it out with healthy ingredients like fresh produce. Following a well-balanced diet rich in colorful fruit and veg can manage your symptoms and prevent the onset of other illnesses.

Reduce your risk for heart disease by limiting your sugar and salt intake

Though they may seem unrelated, HIV can increase your risk for various cardiovascular illnesses.
Consequently, you need to keep your risk factor under control by reducing your sugar and salt intake. Our article on 10 Low-Sugar Foods That Are Actually Pretty High in Calories highlights that you’re also better off avoiding seemingly healthy foods, such as dried fruit, flavored yogurt, and honey because of their high sugar content. Likewise, you must avoid deceptively healthy products like vegetable juice and salad dressing. These are usually packed with additives and sodium, which can be harmful to sensitive bodies. Alternatively, for added flavor, you can look to add more herbs and spices (like ginger and turmeric) that can also keep your heart and body healthy.

Improve your mind and body by doing regular exercise programs

Starting an exercise program can be tricky, but it’s even more challenging to keep it up long-term. That said, exercising regularly can boost your physical strength and improve your mental health.
Recognizing the mental and physical health challenges that HIV brings, researchers from Ontario and Toronto recommend community-based exercise programs that can fortify your body against common HIV co-morbidities. These include chronic pain and diabetes. On top of that, community-based exercise programs serve as a way for people with HIV to access social support, which can boost one’s mental health and confidence. Some community-based workout programs you can explore include aerobics and weight training.
It's no easy feat to live with HIV, but you can still improve your quality of life through the right lifestyle changes. By prioritizing what's best for your health, it's more than likely that you'll live a long, happy, and fulfilled life.