Hepatitis is a disease that affects the liver – an organ that plays a vital role in keeping our bodies healthy by removing impurities from the food we eat.
Hepatitis is caused by a virus and is classified into five different types: Hepatitis B, C and the less common types of Hepatitis A, D and E. Hepatitis B, C and D occur primarily due to contact with infected bodily fluids. The primary causes of Hepatitis A and E are consumption of contaminated water and food. Other causes include eating raw oysters or raw shellfish - both of which carry a higher risk of a Hepatitis A infection.
Hepatitis can spread very fast and it can be fatal. It can also cause permanent liver damage. It is therefore extremely important for Hepatitis patients to watch their diet by eating the right types of food. The diet should include foods that are easy on the liver and exclude foods that cause the liver to work harder as this can delay a patient’s recovery from the disease.
Hepatitis Diet: Recommended Foods to Eat
For a patient with Hepatitis food choices are not limited to a few bland dishes. There are plenty of healthy, tasty food options which are both beneficial for the liver and for the recovery process.
- Whole grains are very beneficial to consume as part of a healthy Hepatitis diet. These can be in the form of bran, whole wheat bread or cereal, brown rice, whole grain pasta or porridge. Include other whole grains such as whole oats, wild rice, rye, oatmeal and corn.
- Fruits and vegetables should be a significant part of any diet to help in recovering from a liver disease. They are full of essential nutrients and are easy to digest. As a bonus, they also contain antioxidants, which can protect the liver cells from damage. However, it is recommended that one go easy on starchy vegetables such as potatoes when on a Hepatitis recovery diet. While canned or frozen fruits are fine it is always a good idea to try and eat fresh and seasonal produce when possible.
- Olive oil, canola oil and flaxseed oil are all healthy fats that are recommended as part of a diet for patients with Hepatitis.
- Healthy proteins in the form of low-fat milk and dairy products along with lean meats, beans, eggs and soy products can also be a part of a healthy liver diet.
Hepatitis Diet: Foods to Avoid
It is equally important to avoid certain foods during Hepatitis as they can be harmful to the liver. Excessive consumption of these can aggravate the disease and even lead to permanent liver damage.
- Processed food items are best avoided when recovering from Hepatitis. Processed food items include processed ingredients that are harder on the liver and relatively devoid of nutrients. Processed breads, cheese and almost all fast -food items are also best avoided during Hepatitis, as they can worsen recovery times.
- Hydrogenated oils must be replaced with healthy oils. In fact for a lifelong healthy liver it is a good idea to switch to healthy oil choices. Avoid consuming foods high in saturated fats or trans-fats.
- Sugar intake should be limited for a healthy liver. This includes all artificial sweeteners as well as fruits juices. Juices have high concentrations of sugar in them, which can be difficult for the liver to digest when the body is under attack from the Hepatitis virus.
- A Hepatitis C diet plan must also be low in iron. Chronic Hepatitis C patients can have difficulty in processing iron, which can overload the liver and the blood with excess iron. This means no consumption of red meats, liver or even grains that have been fortified with iron. Also avoid fruits such as apricots and fish such as tuna; basically any food with high iron content. People with Hepatitis C should also go easy on caffeine – so drink less coffee, tea and caffeinated beverages.
- Hepatitis patients should also severely limit their salt intake. Also refrain from eating high-sodium foods. This means no canned soups or store-bought sauces.
- When on a Hepatitis diet, avoid eating meat especially red meats due to their high sodium content. If you must, stick to lean cuts and eat only once or twice a week.
Hepatitis Diet: Some More Tips:
- Avoid alcohol and cigarettes for a healthy liver.
- Avoid taking vitamin supplements or over-the-counter drugs without consulting your doctor.
- Don’t skip meals when recovering from Hepatitis.
- Eat small meals.
- Drink lots of water.
- Take adequate rest.