Mndaweni of the Department of Health and
Professor Fanie Botha.
The importance of a healthy diet for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) infected patients was emphasised during a Public Lecture at UKZN by Dr Basil Kransdorff who recently received an honorary doctorate from theCollege of Health Sciences.
Kransdorff, a visionary and lobbyist for affordable, effective, bio-available nutrition that results in nutrient repleteness, said that with foods being genetically enhanced and manufactured, it was becoming increasingly difficult to eat healthy because many products had lost their nutritional content.
His address was titled: “Bioavailability and the Importance of Effective Nutrition in the Management of HIV/AIDS and more important, in TB Programmes”.
‘With the majority of HIV and TB infected patients having low immune systems, it is vital that not only do they take their medication, but that they maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
‘Malnutrition plays a significant role in HIV morbidity due to the body not receiving important micronutrients which provide energy, leaving patients vulnerable,’ he said.
‘People who are severely malnourished and infected with TB and HIV need to reach what is called “Nutrient Repleteness”.’
Kransdorff defines nutrient repleteness as ‘bringing the body back to its natural condition. It is the body’s optimal, nutritional condition that results from a well-balanced, nutritionally rich and diversified diet. Nutrient repleteness is the basis of sustainable health, functional successful business and healthy communities.’
He said the importance of micronutrients in food was crucial in a world where mass production had emphasised quantity rather than quality, making the nutrient value of many foods much lower that what it was, 20 years ago. About 48% of tuberculosis infections were actually re-infections.
‘If a patient’s nutritional status was kept up, this problem wouldn’t exist. Nutritional interventions have shown full recovery in patients within a month. When nutritional status is restored, people are able to resist disease and they can go back to work and this also decreases the risk of infecting health workers.
‘TB cannot be fought with drugs alone. If we want to manage this pandemic, nutrition needs to be acknowledged as a factor that can solve a lot of problems. Good nutrition prevents low immune systems, thus helping patients to resist infections better. Mortality is now six times higher for somebody on ARVs who is malnourished.’
Kransdorff explained that through a combination of modern agriculture, food-processing and food fortification, modern science had created a method of stomach filling where a product lacked nutrient value. ‘Food is now harvested earlier than it should, making fruit and vegetables lose the majority of their nutrient value. Modern farming also uses de-vegetation, deep ploughing and acid fertiliser which all decrease the nutrient value of vegetables.’
Micronutrients were removed during food processing. ‘With milling, processing, extreme use of sugar, salt, high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils, food has never been unhealthier, which makes it difficult to tackle an issue like malnutrition.
‘There is a failure of using traditional approaches to solve malnutrition. Many of the modern solutions are not affective and instead replace the problem with another issue.’
Food in the purest state is considered healthiest. With a 76% drop of nutrient density over the past 60 years, modern commercially grown agriculture has made micronutrient content in food drastically lowered. Because of limited food choices available for people, obesity and malnutrition affects both the rich and the poor.
‘We will be able to get a six fold improvement if nutrient repleteness is acknowledged and addressed. Stomach filling isn’t the answer. A patient’s immune system functions better with proper nutrition. It should be made a priority, as chemicals won’t solve the problem.’
* Kransdorff is the creator of ePap, a pre-cooked maize meal distributed in 15 African countries that contains all the nutrients needed for those who suffer from malnourishment and HIV. People eating it regularly generally experience weight gain and improved energy in five to 10 days.