28th July is World Hepatitis Day.
Everything we eat and drink passes through our liver. Our liver changes food into stored energy and chemicals necessary for life. Our liver makes nutrients available so your body can use them to build cells, give you energy, and maintain normal body functions.
How diet affects the liver ?
A bad diet sometimes can lead to liver problems. If your diet provides too many calories, you will gain weight. Being overweight is linked to the buildup of fat in the liver, called “fatty liver.” Over many years, having a fatty liver when you already have hepatitis C will make it more likely to develop cirrhosis. Being overweight and having a fatty liver also have been shown to make it less likely that hepatitis C will successfully be cleared with interferon and ribavirin.
One’s diet also can contain toxins that are harmful to the liver. Some toxins act quickly. Eating certain poisonous mushrooms, for example, can cause liver failure and death within days. Other toxins, such as alcohol, damage the liver over time.
A good diet, by contrast, can actually improve liver health in a person with hepatitis C. A balanced diet can lead to better liver functioning and lowered risk of cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver. It also can help the immune system stay strong and fight off illness.
Finally, people infected with hepatitis C have higher rates of diabetes than those who are not infected, but a good diet can help reduce body fat and control blood sugar. This lowers diabetes risk.
Even though following a generally healthy diet and keeping a normal body weight (measured as Body Mass Index or BMI) may not seem like a specific treatment for hepatitis C, it is a great way of protecting your liver against hepatitis C. With a normal BMI and good diet and exercise, you are helping reduce inflammation in the liver and slow down the progression to cirrhosis from hepatitis C than if you are overweight, have diabetes, have high cholesterol and have fatty liver.
How hepatitis C affects diet ?
If you have hepatitis, you usually don’t need a special diet. Just trying to eat healthy and not being overweight and avoid alcohol is all that is needed.
There are special cases, however, when hepatitis C can affect the diet:
#Hepatitis C treatment can cause side effects that make it difficult to eat
Side effects include loss of appetite, sore mouth and throat, metallic tastes, nausea, and vomiting.
#Patients with cirrhosis
As liver disease progresses, patients may lose their appetite and become so tired they have a hard time eating. They may become very thin and poorly nourished and be less able to fight off disease. They may need to limit salt in their diet to prevent their body from putting fluid into their legs and abdomen.
#Other medical conditions and diet
People who have other medical conditions may need other specific changes in their diet. Conditions that warrant specific dietary restrictions include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol, celiac sprue or chronic kidney disease.
Eating tips :
People with hepatitis C don’t need to follow a special “hepatitis C diet.” The advice that an average, healthy person gets will work just as well for people with hepatitis C, unless those people also have cirrhosis or another condition, such as diabetes, HIV, or kidney disease.
General dietary advice:
1. Eat regular, balanced meals
Eating regularly means eating at least 3 meals a day. One way to keep your energy level up is to eat small meals or snacks at least every 3 to 4 hours. If you are currently on hepatitis C treatment, eating often also can help prevent nausea, which is sometimes a side effect of the medicine.
Balanced meals include a variety of foods from all 4 food groups:
Whole-grain breads, cereals, and grains;
Vegetables and fruits;
Meats, fish, dried beans, soy, nuts, and eggs
Each of these food groups gives you important nutrients.
2. Maintain healthy calorie intake
3. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, fiber, vitamin C, beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A), and folic acid. Some of these substances are antioxidants that can fight cell damage. As a bonus, most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Fresh, frozen, or canned fruits are all good choices. If you buy canned vegetables, buy the ones with “no added salt.”
Buy fresh fruits and vegetables in season when they may be less expensive and at their peak flavor.
Buy vegetables that are easy to prepare. Pick up prewashed bags of salad greens and add baby carrots or cherry tomatoes for a salad in minutes. Buy packages of baby carrots or celery sticks for quick snacks.
4. Get adequate protein
Protein is needed to fight infection and to heal damaged liver cells. Protein helps rebuild and maintain muscle mass and it aids in healing and repair of body tissues. Good protein sources can be divided into 2 groups:
a. Dairy products
Besides providing protein, dairy products are the richest source of calcium and one of the few sources in the diet of vitamin D. Dairy products include milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and puddings made with milk.
Choose dairy products that are low-fat or fat-free. Go easy on dairy products that have lots of fat and little calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter.
b. Meats, fish, dried beans, soy, nuts, and eggs
This group of foods provides protein, as well as B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
Choose lean meats. Boil, bake, or stir-fry them instead of frying.
Caution about iron
Some people with hepatitis C have above-average iron levels in their body. If you have too much iron, your doctor may ask you to eat fewer iron-rich foods, such as red meats, liver, and iron-fortified cereals. You also should avoid cooking with iron-coated cookware because the iron from the pots gets absorbed into food.
5. Go easy on fatty, salty, and sugary foods
Fats and oils are used to store energy in the body, protect body tissues, and transport vitamins through the blood. Some fats are better for you than others. “Good” fats can be found in nuts and seeds, flax seed, olive oil, and fish oils.
“Bad” fats are found mostly in animal sources such as meat and poultry, whole or reduced-fat milk, and butter. They also are present as “trans” fats in fried foods, fast foods, and some processed products, such as cookies and crackers.
All fats, whether good or bad, contain calories and can add unwanted pounds if you eat too much.
Salty foods, If you are already eat too much sodium (salt). Most salt in the diet comes from processed foods, such as crackers, chips, and canned soups. You need a lower sodium diet, you will need to read food labels to know which foods are the best choices. Learn how to read a food label.
Sugar goes by many names: sucrose, corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, and fructose. Sugary foods tend to offer little more than calories. Many of them (such as pastries and desserts) tend to be high in fat, too. There is nothing wrong with having sugary foods now and then. But if you fill up on sweets, you won’t have room for foods that are better for your health.
6. Drink enough fluids
Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day. You don’t have to limit yourself to water. Milk, juice, herbal teas, soup, pudding, and frozen fruit bars all count as fluids, too. If you have a fever, or have experienced vomiting or diarrhea, you will need extra fluids.
7. Reach and maintain a healthy weight
Weighing either too much or too little can allow hepatitis C to progress more quickly in your body.
But, what is a healthy weight?
The Body Mass Index (BMI) Table is a tool that can help you decide. Type in your height and weight, and your BMI will appear using BMI Formula :
If your BMI is under 20 or over 30, ask your health care provider to refer you to a dietitian, who can create a diet to help you reach a healthier weight. (Note: If you work out and have lots of muscle, your BMI may indicate that you are overweight, even if you aren’t.)
Avoid alcohol and Be careful with dietary supplements.