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Summer 2001
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Sharon Dina

Welcome:
Welcome to our very first edition of "Guardian Update" !!! We hope that this will grow to be the first ever inter-agency HIV newsletter to keep people living with HIV/AIDS up to date on what is happening in the Greater New Haven area, as well as important information to live long and well with HIV/AIDS. The success of this newsletter will depend on the input of consumers and various AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs) to let us know what is going on.  Knowledge = Power, and we hope that this will be one small step to keep everybody informed and up to date.  You can send your comments and ideas to GuardianHealth@aol.com  This newsletter needs support, and we are grateful to Unimed and Sharon Dina for supplying us with the first of a series of articles about the importance of Nutrition and HIV.       

made of protein.  Even your bones are part protein. Protein comes from the Greek word "proteus," meaning "of primary importance."  The ancient Greeks knew what we need to know now: Protein comes first. A sound nutrition program which has, as its goal, a healthy immune system (and that should be ALL nutrition programs) will start with protein.  Everyone's individual protein requirement will vary because everyone's nutritional status - size, weight, gender, metabolism, and state of immune health - varies.
The best way to determine your own protein needs is to have a body composition assessment done.  This test, called a BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) is a simple, fast, and painless way to find out if your lean body mass (which indicates your muscle status) is up to par.  If your lean mass remains adequate (or even better, above standard for your size and weight) then it's a good bet that your immune cells are strong as well.  On the other hand, if your lean mass is on the decline, so is your immune system.  Remember, they're both made from the same stuff -protein. Many AIDS service groups, as well as some clinics and private doctors, offer free BIAs periodically.  These are usually performed and interpreted by a nutritionist, who can then determine that all important protein requirement for you.  Check your local area for more information.  In the meantime, to get a ball park figure, take your weight, in pounds, and multiply by .6.  This will give you the minimum amount of protein for your goal.  It's measured in grams.  It won't be as individually suited to your needs, but it's a good place to start.  For example, a 150-lb. man (or woman) would need a minimum of 90 grams of protein daily (150 lbs. x .6 = 90 grams) to maintain his  lean  mass.  (He'd need more if he were trying to gain weight by building muscle.) The table that follows lists some common protein foods and their "gram value."  Set one day aside to write down everything you eat and add up all the protein foods.  See if you meet your goal.  If not, you'll need to add more protein foods.  Exchanging some of those empty calorie foods like chips and soda might not be a bad idea anyway.

Nutrition and HIV:

First Things First    by Sharon Dina.

Did you know that HIV is predominantly a disease of malnutrition?  Wait a minute!  Isn't HIV an immune disorder?  Yes, but it takes food -nutrients--especially protein, to build a healthy immune system.  Those nutrients are the same ones on which HIV lives. Guess what?  When your viral load rises, your immune system suffers, because the very nutrients that it needs are being stolen.  That's what viruses do.  The nutrients that the virus steals, including vitamins, minerals, and protein) can keep you healthy.   Good nutrition won't prevent you from becoming infected with HIV.   What it can do is slow, and even halt, the progression from HIV to AIDS. So you have to outsmart the virus and "sneak" some extra nutrients into your body to feed those immune cells.  What do immune cells like to eat?  Protein, first and foremost.  In fact, with the exception of water (which will be the subject of a future article), protein is the most abundant nutrient in the body.  Protein is the stuff that bodies are made of.  Muscles, organs, hair, blood cells, neurotransmitters (the chemical messenger in the brain) and, yes, immune cells, are

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