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Low Protein Diet for Jaundice Treatment

Excess protein intake can rarely cause jaundice. Jaundice is a condition linked mainly to liver diseases. Jaundice is defined as a condition with abnormally high levels of bilirubin in the bloodstream that causes yellow pigmentation of the skin and the sclera or whites of the eyes. Bilirubin is a byproduct of haem metabolism; old or damaged red blood cells (RBC) are broken down and removed from the circulation regularly. During this process hemoglobin a part of RBCs is broken down to a dark greenish yellow color pigment called bilirubin.

This bilirubin is carried to the liver for further metabolism. When a person ingests a fatty meal, bile is secreted from the liver to the gall bladder then to the intestine. Bilirubin forms a component of bile which helps in fat digestion. If this bile and bilirubin are not excreted quickly from the bloodstream it can cause buildup. This excess bilirubin gets deposited in the skin and the sclera or whites of the eye giving a yellow colored tinge. High levels of bilirubin can be due to any problem originating in the liver or outside the liver. Damage to the liver like inflammation or scarring can interfere with its functions. Any obstruction in the bile duct (due to tumor or gallstone) can also impair the body’s ability to excrete bilirubin. Rarely excess bilirubin production in case of excess break down of RBCs can overload the liver with excess bilirubin that the liver is not capable of processing (this is seen mainly in the case of jaundice in newborns). More on jaundice diet

Adequate rest and appropriate diet can help to recover from jaundice quickly. For the first few days of treatment, solid foods should be limited. Proteins especially from animal origin should be completely avoided till the symptoms of jaundice subside. A high carbohydrate low fat diet should be preferred. Focus should be mainly on fresh fruits, vegetables, whole cereals, beans and sprouts. Avoid spicy and fatty foods completely till the symptoms subside. Alcohol should be strictly avoided as it can be further toxic to the damaged liver. Any kind of stress, both physical and psychological should be avoided completely. If you are on protein supplements or any other products with supply proteins beyond your needs then discontinue the intake till you see a specialist. If your specialist approves your protein supplements then you can take them. For a detailed diet chart you can also consult a registered dietician.

Submitted on January 16, 2014