Hepatitis C is a type of virus which causes inflammation and fibrosis in the liver. It is often also called hep C or HCV, and it is contained the human body fluids or the blood. Liver processes our food intake, both solids and liquids, and converts them into energy for our body and/or sythesises chemicals from it that are essential for normal body function. Special diets are not a necessity in most cases of Hepatitis C. However, in people suffering from Hepatitis C, having a poor diet can cause further liver damage. Obesity can cause a person to have a fatty liver which can result in cirrhosis when combined with hepatitis C. Eating healthy makes the immune system strong to defend the body against illnesses.
The risk of having fatty liver disease along with type 2 diabetes is higher in people suffering from hepatitis C, and leading a healthy lifestyle and eating healthy foods is essential to prevent complications. Your overall treatment must have a balanced diet as an important element. Hepatitis C infection might even damage the liver and the person might suffer from cirrhosis or scarring, if the infection is not treated in time. A person may have to make significant changes to their diet if the virus causes liver damage. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dietician Arushi Gupta, Associate Dietician, Dayanand Medical College and hospital, Ludhiana, about the foods to eat and avoid for Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C diet
Liver must process everything we eat and drink. A healthy and nutritious diet may reduce the impact of hepatitis C and can certainly improve the health of your liver. Even though a special diet is not required in hepatitis C, people often consume healthy and nutritious foods to maintain a good liver health. According to Dt. Arushi, here are the foods that one should drink and avoid for Hepatitis C:
1. Fruits and vegetables
It is advised to add plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet if you are suffering from hepatitis C. Basically, they are rich in fiber and help in keeping you fuller for longer hours than many other foods. This also helps in gaining several essential vitamins and minerals. Fresh fruit and vegetables comprise of a healthy and balanced diet. Green leafy vegetables can reduce the fatty acid in your liver, so they should surely be incorporated in your diet. Beneficial green leafy vegetables include spinach, kale and cabbage. And, when you are buying canned vegetables, make sure they are no-salt and no-sugar-added products.
According to a few studies, coffee is a beneficial beverage for people with hepatitis C. In fact, people who drink coffee are at a lower risk of getting their liver affected by this virus. Both coffee and green tea can also prevent liver fibrosis, i.e scarring of the liver. Coffee contains caffeine that helps in cleaning the liver properly. However, consuming a high amount of coffee can go opposite and damage your liver instead. Thus, take care of the daily coffee intake and protect your liver!
Also read: All You Need To Know About Hepatitis C
3. Lean protein
You can also go for healthy proteins such as fish, skinless chicken and turkey. Other nonfat dairy, and lean cuts of meat are also friendly foods for people with hepatitis C. Maintaining an optimum and healthy weight can help in protecting your liver from damage and fatty liver disease. Fatty proteins promote weight gain or obesity and lean proteins can help you in reaching your goal weight. But, make sure not to add any salt seasonings and herbs for flavour as sodium is restricted in this disease.
4. Nuts and seeds
Having a handful of nuts and seeds daily is a healthy lifestyle habit and can do wonders in your body. Nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, chia seeds,flax seeds, etc offer a wide range of health benefits and these are good for patients who have hepatitis C. It is important for people with hepatitis C to consume unsaturated fats, that are present in nuts and seeds. However, make sure that you are having them in small amounts as instructed by your dietician, as per your health condition.
Alcohol should be avoided to manage health conditions and even to maintain your overall health. It is a big no for alcohol consumption for people with hepatitis as well. It is one of the best ways to slow down the progression of liver disease and to keep it healthy until the virus has been eliminated. Rather than alcohol, you can keep your hydrated and healthy by drinking lots of water. Drinking plenty of fluids including water, coconut water and homemade fruit juices can help in clearing your liver and protecting from liver disease.
2. High salt foods
Most experts restrict the usage of sodium or salt in food items. High salt foods including fried foods can increase your weight, thus fatty liver disease in some cases. It is important to cut your salt intake if you have hepatitis C as it can cause water retention, further resulting in high blood pressure. High sodium intake can be a huge risk for your health if you are suffering from any type of liver disease.
3. Sugary foods
Sugary foods such as doughnuts, chocolates, ice cream and cookies should be avoided at all costs. Consuming high sugar foods can put stress on your liver and even lead to fat deposits in it. Many experts suggest to prefer home cooked less salted foods instead of packaged or baked food items. You can try replacing sugary foods with high protein food items.
4. Fatty foods
Just like sugary foods, fatty food items should also be avoided. Saturated fats that are found in butter, sour cream, and other high-fat dairy and fried foods should be avoided by people with hepatitis C. So, limit your intake of saturated fats and full fairy products. Your body's well being depends on having taking adequate amounts of nutrients. You can talk to your dietician about restricting fatty and oily foods from your diet completely.
Nutrients have a straight effect on managing your weight and support your immune system to stay healthy. If you have hepatitis C, it is crucial to keep your obesity at bay and maintain your body weight in the appropriate range. Normally, a healthy food plan must focus on consuming fruits and vegetables, limiting alcohol and other intoxicants, and should help in sustaining healthy body fat levels. While trying to fight with hepatitis C, staying active and working out is highly necessary and beneficial, so consult a physician regarding the types of exercise and the amount that is important for your body.
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