Diet for Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by a viral infection. The symptoms of hepatitis include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Diet plays an important role in speeding recovery from hepatitis and preventing further deterioration.

Tips for Diet for Hepatitis

  • No Alcohol. Because alcohol is processed and broken down in the liver, and hepatitis impairs liver function, total avoidance of all alcoholic beverages is recommended.
  • Excessive iron can damage the liver. Patients suffering from Hepatitis C sometimes have problems in excreting iron from the body. Hepatitis patients should avoid taking iron supplements.
  • A diet high in red meats can cause iron accumulation in the liver. Limit or eliminate red meat from your diet.
  • Extra energy and protein is required if you are suffering from cirrhosis as well. A doctor or dietitian can help you determine the amount of calories and protein necessary to meet your dietary needs.
  • Patients suffering from Hepatitis C should strive to maintain normal body weight.
  • Because diets high in fat put additional strain on the liver, a low-fat diet is recommended. It cannot be emphasized enough that you should consult your physician and dietitian before embarking on a new diet or exercise regimen.
  • Consume adequate protein according to the recommendation of your physician or dietitian.
  • Protein requirements are likely to be elevated for patients with hepatitis.
  • Avoid empty calories from chocolates and candies. Choose healthy complex carbohydrates like whole grains, vegetables and fruit.
  • Patients suffering from Hepatitis B may find that four or five small meals are easier to tolerate than just a few large meals.
  • Some foods, including dandelion greens, black radish, apples and saffron, watercress, beets, parsley, artichokes, cherries, grapefruit, parsnips, endive, garlic, onion, chicory, horseradish,  mustard greens, kumquats, limes, quinces, grapes and burdock root  are said to promote healthy liver function.
  • Avoid saturated fats, meat, alcohol, hot sauces, spicy foods, fried foods, fatty foods, rich foods, salty foods, cow’s milk and other dairy products, white bread, refined foods, processed foods, phlegm-forming foods, meat, ice cream, shellfish, caffeine, un-purified water, coffee, sugar and sweets, etc
  • Avoid trans-fatty acids, which are frequently found in hydrogenated oils (margarine, vegetable shortenings, imitation butter spreads, and most commercial peanut butters). Also avoid oxidized fats – found in deep fried foods, fast food and barbecued meats.

Always consult your doctor before beginning a new diet or exercise regimen.

References
Escott-Stump, S. Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care, Sixth Edition; Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins; 2008

Anemia Sufferers Now Have Expanding Options for Treatment; Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide; 2006; http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/fhgupdate/L/L11.shtml

Hepatitis A; MayoClinic.com; September 2001; http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hepatitis-a/DS00397

Hepatitis B; MayoClinic.com; September 2001; http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hepatitis-b/DS00398

Hepatitis C; MayoClinic.com; May 2011; http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hepatitis-c/DS00097