Positive Living: Looking After Yourself (cont.)

Fat

A general rule to follow is to limit fat intake to less than 30% of your total diet. A low fat diet is not necessarily advocated, but keep in mind there is good fat and there is bad fat. Limit your intake of saturated fats and eat in moderation those foods containing essential fatty acids, like those found in fish, avocados and nuts.

Water

Water is essential for your body. It's important to drink at least eight glasses a day. It's also important that the water be safe. Some opportunistic infections, such as cryptosporidiosis, can be contracted from bad water. Drinking untreated water from streams or lakes is dangerous for everyone. Most areas in the US do not have contaminated water supplies, but it still would be safest to drink treated water, especially if you have a low CD4 cell count. The best option is to boil tap water for 1 full minute. Another more expensive option is to filter your water with a filter that attaches to your faucet or under your sink. Make sure the filter is capable of removing particles less than 1 micron in size. The best filters in this category produce water by reverse osmosis, are labeled as "Absolute" 1 micron filters, or are labeled as meeting the ANSI/NSF International standard #53 for "cyst removal." Watch for these descriptions on filtered water and filtering products. Use disposable gloves when changing the filter cartridges. Bottled water is another option, if purified by distillation or reverse osmosis.

Vitamins and Nutritional Supplements

Many people take vitamins. Though it is recommended that you first try to get your nutritional needs met with a well balanced diet, there are times when vitamins are needed to "fill the gap." Do not take the attitude "if one vitamin is good, then two or three would be even better." Having too much of some vitamins can harm your health. The current recommendation is to take one or two multi-vitamins per day with less than 10-mg. iron. Be sure to tell your health care provider about your current vitamin intake.

There are many products on the market (such as Ensure and Advera) that have proven to be reliable sources of nutrients for people with HIV or AIDS. These supplements, which often come in liquid form, can be great food on the run, if you don't feel like cooking, or if you just want to boost your protein a bit. It's important to remember these products are not meant to replace meals, they are supplements. It is very important that you maintain a balanced diet to the best of your ability.