Hepatitis Diet, Nutrition
Hepatitis is a disease that affects the liver. The liver is the largest gland in the body and is responsible for a number of functions. Some of these include digestion, detoxification, storage of energy, synthesis of proteins and the production of cholesterol and urea. Damage to the liver or liver cells can therefore affect the functioning of different organs in the body. Hepatitis is a disease that affects people across the globe.
There are five different types of hepatitis i.e. Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E each with different symptoms.
A proper hepatitis diet can help with both recovery and prevention of later relapses and attacks. When the liver is damaged, one of the first symptoms is a loss of appetite. A hepatitis diet menu prescribed by your doctor or nutritionist will help you receive the calories that you need, prevent malnutrition and fatigue and boost your immunity.
Eating the right type of food in the appropriate amounts can greatly facilitate recovery from hepatitis. A typical hepatitis diet plan should include the right amount of protein. You can incorporate protein into your diet by eating cheese and meat and drinking milk daily. Other good sources of protein are fish, eggs, nuts and legumes. In case you are a vegetarian, you can increase your protein intake by incorporating avocados and olive oil into your diet. Moderate amounts of protein are necessary for cell damage recovery. If your liver has been badly damaged as seen in cases of advanced cirrhosis, protein in large portions can be unsafe. Your doctor will be able to advice you on how much to eat, so check with him before starting any diet plan.
The antioxidant properties of fresh fruits and vegetables aid your recovery from hepatitis. Try eating them raw or lightly steamed and add spices and herbs to increase their nutritional value. A good hepatitis diet should include low-fat meals. Hepatitis affects the liver’s ability to produce bile. Meals high in fat require a large quantity of bile in order to be digested properly and should therefore be avoided. During your recovery period, small amounts of fatty foods should be introduced at a time.
- Eating several small meals a day is highly recommended for a hepatitis diet. This gives you regular doses of energy throughout the day and prevents excessive fatigue and tiredness. The liver is also allowed to replace and store glycogen reserves necessary to improve energy.
- Since the liver is responsible for removing toxins from the blood, it is important to reduce the amount of toxins in your body when the liver is weak with hepatitis. Alcohol is to be strictly avoided. Certain medications can have an adverse effect on the liver so check with your doctor about what you should and should not be taking. Tobacco and recreational drugs are to be avoided as well.
In case you feel too nauseous and cannot eat a full meal, try one of the high-protein meal replacement shakes and drinks available in the market. These liquid meal replacements should be served chilled.
A hepatitis diet aims to regenerate liver cells as quickly as possible. Changing your eating habits accordingly will also prevent further liver damage. A typical daily menu is as follows:
- Breakfast – Whole wheat bread with natural jam. Milk and fresh fruit can be added as well.
- Mid-morning snack – Soup or fat-free milkshake
- Lunch – Whole wheat pasta or brown rice along with a portion of vegetables and protein. Finish off with some fresh fruit like bananas or berries.
- Early evening – Fresh fruit juice and crackers
- Dinner – Vegetable soup, whole grain bread, salad and a small portion of protein
- Drink a glass of milk (preferably soy milk) just before sleeping.
Natural foods for hepatitis patients include fruit juices, fat-free milkshakes, yogurt, custard, clear soups, crackers, rusk, and porridge. Other healing foods for hepatitis are:
- Whole wheat bread and cereals
- Brown rice
- All vegetables though potatoes should be had in moderation
- Beans and legumes
- Vegetable juices
- Herbal teas
- Olive oil
- Whole-wheat pasta
- Canned tuna (only small amounts)
These foods for hepatitis may not seem like a large choice but you can get innovative with your cooking. Experiment with various combinations of herbs and light spices to create fat-free meals that are as enjoyable. Just make sure that you never overeat and try and avoid meals for at least five hours before you sleep. Drink plenty of water during the day and eat slowly, chewing properly all along.
Hepatitis causes loss of appetite and this in turn can lead to malnutrition. Since you end up eating less, you will also be getting less than the recommended intake of vitamins and minerals from your daily diet. Vitamins such as vitamin K and vitamins E for hepatitis are important to boost immunity and speed up the healing process.
Supplements for hepatitis such as essential fatty acid, flax seed oil and certain herbal supplements can be included in your hepatitis diet, but should be done under the supervision of a trained practitioner or doctor.
Hepatitis - Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
Different types of hepatitis have different symptoms but the common hepatitis symptoms found in all types is loss of appetite, fatigue, joint and muscle aches, fever, nausea, and high levels of bilirubin or jaundice.
The most common cause of hepatitis is a viral infection. At times alcohol abuse may also cause liver damage that can lead to chronic hepatitis.
The best treatment for hepatitis is copious amounts of rest. Apart from rest and changing your diet, acute or chronic cases of hepatitis may require medication and in severe cases even a liver transplant.
Hepatitis prevention entails maintaining a high level of hygiene to prevent infections. Food should be cleaned before cooking and eating and only purified water consumed. Alcohol should be taken in moderation as well.
Hepatitis diagnosis generally requires a physical examination to check for yellowish skin that comes with jaundice. A urine or blood test can confirm the high levels of bilirubin that are a symptom of hepatitis.