Lark Lands on the 7 Deadly Sins for those wishing to live long and well with HIV

We’re re-printing below an excerpt from a piece Lark Lands wrote several years ago, because it still has much solid advice for people with HIV/AIDS. A medical journalist and longtime AIDS treatment educator and advocate, Lark was a pioneer in focusing attention on an integrated, “holistic” approach to HIV disease. She served as science editor for POZ magazine, and has also been a contributor to Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE) publications.

The title of this piece is “The 7 Deadly Sins for those wishing to live long and well with HIV.” This excerpt has to do with nutrient needs (but see also the other sections, including those on gastrointestinal health and maintaining muscle mass.)


Sin #2: Ignoring the nutrient needs that both the disease and the medicines create.

Whether or not you’re taking antiretrovirals, your body is fighting an ongoing battle. It needs higher levels of nutrients to do that. You can’t power the body’s immune response or build replacement immune cells without the nutrient building blocks. You need to consume:

–good levels of protein
–good levels of unrefined complex carbohydrates (brown rice instead of white; whole-grain breads, crackers, cookies and pasta instead of those made with nutrient-poor white flour)
lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
–moderate amounts of good fats every day (monounsaturated fats like olive oil are best; avoid the partially hydrogenated oils found in margarines, shortenings and many baked goods and snack foods. Read the labels!)
–lots of healthful liquids (water, juices, teas — not chemical- and sugar-loaded junk drinks)

That’s how you power your body to keep up the immense battle against HIV. Numerous studies have shown that disease progression is faster in people with low levels of nutrients, so remember, nutrients are one of your best weapons against HIV. (Always make sure that the food you eat and the water you drink is safe.)

Nutrients can also help prevent or reduce the side effects and toxicity of medications while improving their absorption. You can help your body handle all the pills you’re taking by giving it good nutrition, lots of healthful fluids, appropriate supplementation and plenty of liver and kidney support.

With liver-toxic drugs: Consider L-carnitine (or L-acetyl-carnitine), and the nutrients that maintain glutathione levels in the liver — alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and L-glutamine. Depending on drug interactions (check!), silymarin (milk thistle extract) may also be useful.

To help with kidney stress: Drink lots of water throughout the day. Aim for a large glass every hour or so, especially each time you pop your pills.

Don’t forget that nutrient supplementation can often help reduce or possibly eliminate HIV-related symptoms such as fatigue, skin problems, diarrhea and gas, memory loss, neuropathy and more. In order to manage a difficult disease long-term, you need to feel good!

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