The case of Egusi Okra meal in the diet of HIV+/AIDS subjects
Abstract, Toxicology Reports, 2017
The Egusi Okra soup is a traditional African meal that is considered of high nutritional value and protective against weight loss. We introduce the concept of “kitchen toxicology” to analyse the recipe of the Egusi Okra soup and highlight possible mitigation measures for toxic and/or antinutritional effects in the wide spectrum of health and nutritional needs of HIV+/AIDS subjects. In particular, we focus on toxicants (environmental contaminants, process contaminants, substances leaching from food contact materials) dysregulating the immune status, as well as on interactions between nutrients, contaminants, and/or antinutrients which may lead to secondary/conditioned nutritional deficiencies or imbalances; in their turn, these can modulate the ability to cope with toxicants, and increase nutritional requirements. Recommendations are given for practices preserving the Egusi Okra soup from such risk factors, identifying points of particular attention during meal preparation, from purchase of raw ingredients through to food handling, cooking, storage, and consumption. The Egusi Okra soup is discussed in the context of a diet that is asked to mitigate complications (weight loss, opportunistic infections) and support antiretroviral therapy in African countries with high HIV/AIDS prevalence. The paper discusses how nutritional interventions benefit of the integration of kitchen toxicology practices in everyday life. Toxicological risk assessment is crucial to understand the history and status of the person exposed to or affected by infectious diseases.