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Staying Healthy with an Immune challenged body.

Staying healthy with an immune challenged body.

There are many articles and diets today aimed at helping us gain, loose, trim, reduce cholesterol and others, that affect our weight and heart.

But what about those who aside from the latter, have to navigate the issue of keeping their immune system boosted, navigate medications and the side-affects, aside from eating a recommended nutritious diet?

In understanding how best to treat someone, we need to understand the social factors and context surrounding each person. Looking at the lifestyle includes a broader insight into race, gender, income level, shopping habits, rural /city living, class, and other factors. People interpret their experiences of illness and health differently, and this can lead to some taking one course of action and others acting in a more apathetic or procrastinating manner. Again we can look at race, gender, age group, culture, and ethnicity to create circumstances that surround choice.

In South Africa if we look at a local city like Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, one can see how the above factors play a vital role in the way health-related issues arise. On the one hand, you have areas that could be considered ‘first world’ with all the facilities and standards that you would expect in a European City. Supermarkets with clean filled shelves of freshly supplied fruit and vegetables, canned or dried goods and luxuries like chocolate and wine. Then you could travel a few kilometers down the road and see a township where unlike the supermarket, these are ‘home-stores’ that are situated in different parts of the village to sell goods that are based on income levels. Meat might not be totally fresh and limited in choice, maize and related corn or rice bulked products are sold as the basis for all meals. Shopping here is not based on what you would like, but need, how much can you get out of your salary to feed you and your family over a period of time, say a week.

Many of the factors in South Africa that govern health-related issues arise from a black culture that has been poorly educated in nutrition, sees food as a necessity, not as a pleasure, and enjoys sugar-based treats and maize-based snacks as an in-between snack. This is not uncommon even in western society, where parents will use crisps to satiate a child’s hunger between meals. It’s a poor alternative to a crispy apple which has many essential benefits, to a snack offering no nutritious factors. And in that child later on in life, due to reliance on that high sodium and non-saturated fat snacks of diabetes or heart disease.

Still there is a large portion of society in many countries that are not aware of what food manufacturers use to ‘bulk-up’ products to meet the expectations of the consumer in size, color, weight, etc. and for the manufacturer to improve profit through cheaper basic raw materials.

Over the years we have seen the use of corn-based products used as syrups, starches, and powder to increase the bulk and sweetness of products. Take a look at `yogurt’ It’s a simple enough product made from milk, yet it contains starch and often gelatine to give that thick creamy texture. ‘Real yogurt’ is a lot runnier, its consistency is not appealing to the consumer; and therefore would not sell as well.

It is therefore, left to the responsibility of Health Professionals, Dieticians and Nutritionists, and the Food Production and Agricultural Industry through collaboration, to educate, inform adjust the patterns of purchasing by the shopper in seeking healthier options. Through education from the primary school level, children can influence parents in poorer neighborhoods on how to purchase healthier options, and to limit the unhealthy snacks for natural alternatives.

Nutrition in places like Sub-Saharan Africa, because of the diverse cultures and socio-economic differences needs to be broken down into very simple terms that can be categorised by a colour theory or iconography. We already have some of these in place and labels do give measurements , but most consumers don’t understand what the measurements mean or can even read the small print. The ideal scenario would be to get the food production industry, and that includes fast-food chains, to use healthy levels of natural ingredients, rather than products like corn syrup, sodium and stabilisers.

There has definitely been a link between the use of various food additives in the past 30 years and children being treated for Attention Disorders. In some cultures like Asia and Africa, their body does not have the enzyme ability to break-down and dissolve the additives contained in western fast-food. This has led to many children and young adults suffering from obesity, diabetes and the early on-set of poor liver function at alarming rates. It is pleasing to see that more recently stores like Sainsbury’s in the UK, Woolworths and Food Lovers Market in South Africa and Trader Joes in the USA offer organic or more naturally produced alternatives. Through ‘consumer demand’ and the rise in celebrity chef’s like Jamie Oliver. Their influence has helped to inform the general populous of healthy eating habits and purchasing.

More recently, celebrity ‘Health Professionals’ like Frederick Banting, Dr. Russell Wilder of the Mayo clinic and Tim Noakes, have brought forth nutrition regimes like the Aitkins / Ketogenic / Banting and Right Blood Type diets. These are based on serving the right portion size/meal, learning to calculate carbohydrate and protein intake, and excluding certain foods that are bad for the digestion system and over well-being. These can include but not limited too: refined carbs, insoluble fats, oils, nuts, sugar, and certain fruits. Though consumers embarking on any of these diets should first learn if these diets are right for their body type.

*Patients with HIV, Type 2/Diabetes, or Kidney and Liver disorders should avoid these types of diets, as they can cause kidney stones, heart disease, muscle wastage, nutrient deficiencies, and constipation.

All these various eating regimes have helped to fuel more information to the consumer, allowing them to be better informed and less helpless in diagnosing their own health issues, leading now to less reliant on General Practitioner’s whom often are not well informed on correct nutrition.

It is with great joy to say that many health professionals now look at all the symptoms regarding illness, and after they have treated their clients, they often refer them to a Dietitian or Nutritionist for continued support and diet corrective education.

Why is a good diet so important for people with HIV?
Eating the right diet means your body’s system and organs are getting the correct balance of nutrients to help promote regeneration and support the well-being of the body as a complete organic system. When you have HIV, various bodily systems are put under great strain from the virus and medications. The body needs to be supported to keep all systems operating well, maintain consistency and prevent weight and muscle loss. Following various dietary guidelines, a person can improve their efficiency and maintain a healthier body.

Eating protein which breaks down into amino acids helps to maintain and repair cells and muscle. Though as a source of energy it is short-lived and should not be the main constituent of your diet. It can cause rapid weight loss on its own resulting in muscle wastage.

A higher carbohydrate/fat diet that does not include refined carbs or sweets, will greatly improve the balance of the immune system, maintain the form, and CD4 levels required with people who are HIV+. Many nuts fruits, coconut oil will increase cellular reproduction, organ regeneration, and a balanced energy output for those who workout and are HIV+.

The reason why we need our vitamins and minerals is that these nutrients help the body to regulate all the various processes that our complex systems have, some repair, some regenerate, some build, some carry away like transporters and some detox.

Like all processes a fluid is required to act as a medium, and this is where water comes into play. Our body which is mainly water use this fluid to dilute other substances within the body for function.

‘Be healthier and happier body’.

Improving ones CD4 count:

  • Limit milk and sugary or caffeinated drinks.
  • Eat slowly and more frequently.
  • Avoid greasy foods.
  • Instead of fresh produce, try well-cooked vegetables or canned ones.
  • Try calcium carbonate supplements or fiber supplements like Metamucil wafers.
  • Drink more fluids than usual.
  • Don’t smoke, and abusing drugs damages your immune system.
  • Eat foods high in these vitamins and minerals, which can help boost your immune system:
  • Vitamin A and beta-carotene: dark green, yellow, orange, or red vegetables and fruit; liver; whole eggs; milk.
  • B vitamins: meat, fish, chicken, grains, nuts, white beans, avocados, broccoli, and green leafy vegetables.

With any diet, look at the interactions your body first has with its medications. Some HIV meds will increase your cholesterol rapidly, others will cause strain and even damage to your gall bladder and kidneys.

The right diet is often a mix of the best, with a careful appreciation to moderate your portions, eat far less sugary snacks or drinks which do poison the immune system, eat less red meat and more white meat and fish, and eat good fats and oils for improved health and energy. Having a dietary format that you work out each week is a better way to stick to a healthier lifestyle. Last-minute ideas are usually trouble, pizza is not a good option to have on a regular basis. Think about how you would like to feel in 5 years and maintain your health through careful consumption.

Article written by Shalom Grays.

For more information write to me and let me know more about your health secrets, diets, and issues.