Nutrition & Illness

Nutrition & Illness

Nutrition & Illness

With advancements in treatment, people are living longer with HIV/AIDS, but now they are also affected by chronic diseases associated with obesity like heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. A healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent or reduce your risk of developing these diseases. Control your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol, stop smoking, and get enough exercise.


Cancer and cancer treatments cause a variety of reactions and side effects from person to person and from cancer to cancer. Radiation therapy uses high energy radiation to target and shrink cancer cells either externally or internally (brachytherapy). Chemotherapy involves the use of strong medicines or drugs to treat cancer. Chemotherapy focuses on killing cancer cells, but in the process also damages healthy cells. Healthy cells do bounce back and repair themselves. Your body needs additional calories and protein to help repair and heal damaged cells. It is incredibly important to maintain your weight as stable as possible for better outcomes. Substantial weight gain or weight loss is not recommended.

Diabetes and Kidney Disease

Diabetes is a disease that affects your body’s ability to use glucose (sugar) in your blood. Type 1 diabetes typically affects children and young adults. The body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to convert sugar, and starch into energy your cells can use. Type 2 diabetes typically affects adults, but now more and more children are affected. With Type 2 diabetes your body does not use insulin properly; over time the cells that create insulin in the pancreas are damaged reducing the amount of insulin produced and losing the ability to keep normal levels of blood sugar in your body. Symptoms include urinating often, feeling thirsty or hungry even though you are eating, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, slow healing cuts or bruises, tingling or pain of the extremities (hands or feet)

Nephropathy (kidney disease)can develop from a variety of causes. Your kidneys remove about two litters of waste from your blood each day, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. They also help regulate fluid levels, release hormones, and help maintain healthy bones. Kidney disease can result from injury to the kidneys, infections, and medication, but the most common causes are elevated blood sugar and high blood pressure. Your kidneys are essential for filtering wastes out of your blood. Tiny little blood vessels filter all of the blood in your body. High levels of sugar in the blood or elevated blood pressure can overwork and damage these blood vessels.

Heart Disease

This is a broad term for diseases of the heart which includes Coronary artery disease, Congestive heart failure or Heart failure, Cardiomyopathy, and Atherosclerosis, just to name a few. The leading cause of death in the US is Coronary Artery Disease which can lead to a heart attack. About 600,000 people die from heart disease each year, that’s 1 in 4 deaths (CDC, 2013).


Human Immunodeficiency Virus affects key cells of your immune system your T-cells or CD4 cells. These cells help fight infections and disease, but HIV invades them, uses them to make more copies of itself, then destroys them. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of your CD4 cells that your body can't fight infections and diseases anymore. When your T-cells drop below 200, HIV diagnosis changes to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).

Project Angel Food - Chicken

Additional Tips

In fighting chronic diseases your immune system is most likely compromised you should closely follow food safety recommendations. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, cook all meats completely to appropriate internal temperatures, wash your hands frequently especially after handling raw meat products and never use utensils, plates, or surfaces used for raw products to handle cooked or ready to eat foods.