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A Nutrition Plan for People Living With Hepatitis C

Some dietary changes will make life easier on your liver

Hepatitis C is a disease that negatively impacts health through inflammation of the liver. The liver is the bodily organ that processes everything we put into our bodies, so it’s vital we learn to keep it in the best condition possible, especially if it’s struggling through hep C. Although most medical professionals agree there is no specific miracle diet to help remedy hepatitis C symptoms, there are certainly dietary changes you can implement to make life a bit easier for your liver.

No specific diet is better or worse than another, according to Shuvo Ghosh, M.D., but the idea is to make choices for a diet that is liver-healthy overall.

“What does that mean, really? It means being aware of what kinds of foods or products will potentially tax your liver, or make it work harder, as opposed to those foods that are processed more easily in our routine metabolism,” Dr. Ghosh says. “Drinking alcohol, taking recreational drugs or medicines [such as Tylenol] that are mainly metabolized through the liver are not recommended for those with hepatitis C. Certain teas [like mixed green/black teas] or fruits that could affect metabolism (like grapefruits) are less recommended.

“Other than that, there are no particular recommendations of major importance, but a general healthy, balanced and vitamin-rich diet full of easy to digest foods (fruits, veggies, grains that are tolerated) is preferred over a harder to digest diet (greasy, fatty, meat-rich).”

Liver health is important every day of the year, but as we come out of the holiday season, where we were bombarded with a plethora of rich foods and party beverages, it’s doubly necessary to watch what we eat. Here are some tips to make the battle a bit easier.

Incorporate whole grains like oats, quinoa and brown rice into your diet as your main source of carbohydrate energy.
Emphasize balance. Think of your dinner plate as a pie; serve yourself one-half portion of fruits and vegetables, with the remaining two quarters made up of equal amounts lean meat and high-fiber grains.
Utilize healthy fats like those found in nuts, olive oil and avocados. Avoid saturated fats (butter, sour cream, etc.), which can contribute to the development of fatty liver and eventually cirrhosis.

Drink as much water as you can. Replace caffeinated beverages or sugary sodas with water. If plain water’s too boring, add lemon.

Make sure to wash all meats, fruits and vegetables carefully to remove any harmful bacteria, which may increase chances of liver damage.

Steer clear of processed foods. Replace fruits or vegetables from cans with fresh ones, which unlike their pent-up counterparts, haven’t been stripped of their natural nutrients and antioxidants.

Limit salt intake. Keep sodium levels around 2,000 mg daily, and try using lemon juice and fresh herbs to jazz up your meal.
Eat several small meals at regular intervals to ensure balanced liver function throughout the day.

Be wary of supplements containing iron and vitamins A, B3, C or D, Dr. Ghosh advises, as these may cause liver damage. Discuss with your doctor or nutritionist the potential benefits of milk thistle supplements to aid liver function.

According to experts, the following basic essentials should also be adhered to: Avoid alcohol, find time to exercise, stop smoking, and find a close friend, family member or support group with whom to share your concerns.

For more information, check out the following:

The Hepatitis C Cookbook: Easy and Delicious Recipes

Liver Cleansing Handbook

The Liver Healing Diet


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