April 11, 2018

Nutrition therapy guidelines will help people living with HIV stay healthy

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A UAB professor wrote guidelines for nutrition therapy for HIV-positive patients.

Mafe (Sweet Potato Stew)

Servings: 4
Total time: 30 minutes
Recipe credit: Oldways

INGREDIENTS

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large sweet potato, chopped into medium-size cubes
2 large carrots, cut into thin rounds (or whatever leftover vegetables you have from the week’s cooking)
2 green zucchini, cut into thin half-rounds
1 small can (15 oz.) of diced tomatoes, no salt added
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tablespoon curry power
¼ cup natural peanut butter
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the oil in one of the soup pots on medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent (3-4 minutes).
  2. While the onions and garlic cook, chop up the sweet potato, carrots and zucchini.
  3. Add sweet potato and vegetables to the pot; sauté for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, vegetable broth and curry powder, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. After 10 minutes, add the peanut butter and the thyme to the stew. Let it cook, covered, for another 3-5 minutes.
  6. Salt to taste, serve and enjoy!

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics released their new guidelines for medical nutrition therapy in HIV care titled “Practice Paper of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Nutrition Intervention and Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection,” with Amanda Willig, Ph.D., R.D., assistant professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Infectious Diseases, serving as the guideline’s lead author.

The guidelines are intended to help registered dietitians and dietetic technicians outline specific nutrition therapies that will benefit people living with HIV, as adequate nutrition often poses significant issues for this subset of patients. Side effects from the virus expose these patients to a higher risk of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes, thus requiring nutritional guidance to be specifically tailored to their needs.

“Nutrition is a significant issue of struggle for people living with HIV — particularly here in Birmingham — as many of our patients experience food insecurity, which makes it difficult to obtain food and to focus on taking care of other health needs,” Willig said. “Struggles to obtain good nutrition are evident in high rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease experienced by this patient population here locally, and we hope these guidelines will help us better serve.”

The guidelines reference improved understandings of HIV’s effects on metabolism and chronic inflammation, which has only made nutritional treatment more complex, as well as the necessary supplementation of vitamins and minerals for patients living with HIV. The new guidelines also recommend that nutrition assessment encompass food insecurity risk, changes in body composition, biochemical indices and clinical indicators of comorbid disease.

Locally, UAB’s 1917 Clinic employs three registered dietitians who provide nutrition therapy for patients, ranging from nutrition for HIV symptom management to treatment and prevention of chronic diseases, including weight loss, diabetes, high cholesterol, kidney health, bone health, cognitive function and frailty.

“Nutrition plays a very important role in keeping people living with HIV healthy; but the main takeaway from the guidelines is how little we still know about HIV impacts the body’s nutrition needs, and what nutrition plans are actually best for disease management in this unique population,” Willig said. “Hopefully, research being conducted today will give us better answers to those questions in the next five years.”