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Asparagus Has Potential to Benefit Hepatitis C

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Research out of Korea suggests that asparagus is a liver protector, a notion that could benefit Hepatitis C sufferers.

Everyday choices such as what to eat for dinner can have an impact on someone with Hepatitis C. Because certain foods can help liver function while others may hinder it, nutritional awareness is a key component of any Hepatitis C health regimen. More specifically, eating asparagus has demonstrated the capability to protect the liver from toxicity.

From a basic dietary perspective, increasing the proportion of fruit and vegetables per meal is guaranteed to support your liver’s health. Produce contains fiber and is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that optimize cellular function. For someone with Hepatitis C, this translates to helping fortify and protect liver cells from the inflammation and cellular damage of a chronic liver virus. However, choosing asparagus as your veggie might offer someone with Hepatitis C more help than previously thought.

According to an article published in the Journal of Food Science, “an extract from asparagus may increase the function of enzymes in the liver and boost the metabolism of alcohol.” Researchers from Korea concluded that, “the leaves of A. officinalis, which are normally discarded, have the potential for use in therapy designed to protect the liver from various harmful insults.”

Although the information given by investigators is insufficient to launch an asparagus eating campaign, the news comes as no surprise to many alternative healthcare providers. Due to its anticancer effects, asparagus has been used for centuries as an herbal medicine in Asia. In addition, asparagus is purported to have the following properties:

  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Diuretic

Packed with high levels of folate, amino acids, potassium and Vitamins B and C, asparagus officinalis is a common vegetable that is widely consumed worldwide. According to researchers at the Institute of Medical Science and Jeju National University in Korea, asparagus extract may alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells against toxins.

Researchers analyzed the components of young asparagus shoots and leaves to compare their biochemical effects on human and rat liver cells. They found that the cellular toxicities of chronic alcohol use were significantly alleviated in response to treatment with asparagus leaf and shoot extract.

However, these findings do not provide a solution for someone with Hepatitis C who wants to drink alcohol. This is because there is no amount of alcohol that is safe for someone with Hepatitis C. However, these results can be extrapolated and applied to Hepatitis C in a different way:

  • Alcohol use causes oxidative stress on the liver just like Hepatitis C causes oxidative stress on the liver.
  • Because asparagus extract protects liver cells from oxidation (and subsequent damage) from alcohol, it will also likely protect liver cells from oxidation (and subsequent damage) from a hepatitis virus.

When Not to Eat Asparagus

Asparagus contains naturally-occurring substances called purines. Certain individuals who are susceptible to purine-related problems should not eat a lot of asparagus. Since purines can be broken down to form uric acid, excess accumulation of purines in the body can lead to excess accumulation of uric acid. Thus, those with ailments due to uric acid buildup should be advised to limit or avoid purine-containing foods – like asparagus. Examples of such ailments include gout and kidney stones.

Even though the Korean research focused on how asparagus could protect the liver from the effects of alcohol, the biological mechanism of aiding liver function applies to all potential liver toxins – including Hepatitis C. Exempting people with purine-related health concerns, those managing chronic Hepatitis C will do themselves a favor when considering asparagus to star in their meals.

References:

http://www.hcvadvocate.org/news/newsLetter/2009/advocate0909.html#5, Blueberries, Asparagus and HCV, C.D. Mazoff, PhD, Retrieved September 13, 2009, Hepatitis C Support Project, 2009.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/160722.php, Fight The Dreaded Hangover: Asparagus Extracts May Protect The Liver, Retrieved September 13, 2009, MediLexicon International Ltd., August 2009.

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=12, Asparagus, Retrieved September 13, 2009, The George Mateljan Foundation, 2009.

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