A Basic Diet for Hepatitis
Foods You Should Avoid
Alcohol – No brainer. The most important change for anyone diagnosed with hepatitis is the complete elimination of alcohol from his or her life.
Wheat and Gluten – Gluten can be highly inflammatory; thus adopting a gluten-free diet can be beneficial to your liver. The inability to properly digest and process gluten creates a chronic state of inflammation which leads to “leaky gut” syndrome. This allows toxins and pathogenic organisms to infiltrate your blood, presenting a chronic toxic overload to your liver. The long-term outcome of this is often non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, the “gateway disorder” that can progress to other more serious liver diseases. At this point, liver enzyme levels will be elevated.
Tap Water –Your tap water may contain more than you bargained for, including heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, inorganic chemicals and compounds that the liver is not able to process. Even the shower you take every day has toxins in it which are absorbed through the skin and inhaled through the lungs. Filtered water is of course better than tap water. Consider having your water tested to decide what is most appropriate for you and your family. For greater safety, you may want to consider drinking bottled water. Distilled water is another possibility, but there is some controversy over its benefits; therefore you may wish to take distilled water in moderation.
Junk Foods – These are our favorite foods but the name fits. Junk is junk, meaning worthless. Our body does not get a good source of nutrition from junk foods and, most often, they are full of all the things we need to stay away from – including fats, sugars, empty calories, chemicals and additives. Our poor livers don’t need this added stress.
White Flour (unless it is organic and unbleached) – Bleached white flour has been chemically processed. Lots of vitamins and minerals are lost during the process; about 78%. When we consume this chemically-altered product our bodies need extra vitamins and minerals in order to process it and utilize it. Instead, try these recipes for gluten-free all-purpose flour or gluten-free whole-grain flour.
Hydrogenated Oils – Hydrogenated (they are refined) oils are another product that is hard for the liver to handle. This includes any type of oil or fat that hardens when cold. A better choice would be flaxseed oil or virgin olive oil.
Dairy Products – Dairy foods are extremely hard to digest. Because those with liver disease (especially cirrhosis) are more susceptible to small intestine bacterial overgrowth than those with a healthy liver, they are also more likely to experience the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Additionally, a growing number of clinicians are recognizing that eating dairy may cause small intestine bacteria overgrowth exacerbating digestive issues in patients with a liver disease.
Fruit Juices – These beverages are high in concentrated sugar. Sugar is a shock to the liver, stresses the digestive process, stresses the pancreas, and it feeds the Hepatitis C virus.
Artificial Sweeteners – The first word gives you the first clue: artificial. These sweeteners are extremely hard for the liver to process, adding additional burden to the liver. In addition to artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup is no better on the liver and, while sugar isn’t exactly liver friendly, if you’re going to eat it – do so in moderation.
Processed Foods – We all know processed foods contain unnatural substances, preservatives, fillers and chemically treated substances. Commonsense tells us this is not healthy for us.
Updating and recharging your diet is both a mental and physical commitment – and you can do it!
Changing your eating habits can be difficult, and it definitely takes will power. However, altering your diet can have profound effects on overall health – including improved mood, energy and much more.
If you prefer, start slowly by swapping one bad food with one good food. For example, before reaching for salty potato chips, try eating baked chips instead. Rather than indulge in a bowl of ice cream, choose fruit. Both have a sugary boost – but fruit is so much healthier! Steer clear of alcohol by opting for flavored water or herbal tea.
Helpful Hints to Keep Your Healthy Eating on Track
- Plan your meals out in advance. This leaves less room for hasty decisions when you’re hungry and on the go.
- Chop up fresh vegetables and keep them in containers as soon as you get home from the farmer’s market or grocery store. Crunchy carrots, cucumbers, celery and tomatoes will be waiting when you’re ready for a snack.
Foods You Should Eat
- Beans, all kinds
- Walnuts and other nuts
- Vegetables (potatoes in moderation).
- Kale – It’s a superfood for your liver!
- Lots of vegetable juices, freshly juiced by you
- Homemade vegetable soup
- Fresh fruit in moderation (2-3 pieces per day)
- Lemonade made with fresh lemons and mildly sweetened or lemon water.
- Spices and Herbs
- Herbal teas, iced or hot
- Organic virgin olive oil
- Flaxseed oil
You can take almost any recipe and convert it into a healthy dish simply by using healthy foods.
Eating Habit Tips
- Eat four, small meals per day. Never eat a large meal at one time.
- Do not eat for five hours before bedtime.
- Try new foods – you may just like them by accident.
- Drink lots of distilled water throughout the day.
- Take a digestive aid with each meal.
- Eat slowly and not in front of the TV.
- Prepare your foods ahead of time whenever possible so they are ready when you are. You can prepare soups, beans, chili beans and more – and freeze them in microwavable containers.
- Salt – if you do not have a problem with retaining fluids and you do not have high blood pressure then a little added salt is fine. You can tell if you are retaining fluids by pressing on your shin bone. Press and hold for five seconds; if it’s indented after releasing pressure you are retaining fluids and should reduce your salt intake.
- Chew, chew, chew. The digestive process starts in the mouth. The chewing action begins the release of digestive juices. Chew, chew, chew. Are you finished chewing?
- If you feel tired, you maybe have eaten too much or the wrong foods. Try lying down.
- Do not eat when you are angry, frustrated or bored. Instead, go take a walk and talk to yourself. This is a great way to relieve your stress.
Remember to make your changes slowly but surely. It took years to learn those bad habits and it will take time to break them.
Tips for Those with Cirrhosis
The majority of the is the same but there are a few important differences:
- Do not eat raw vegetables; steam them instead. These include carrots, potatoes, cauliflower or any “hard to chew” vegetables. Juicing is preferred.
- Avoid alcohol, hot sauces, spicy foods, fried foods, fatty foods and salty foods.
- Suggested fresh juices:
- Carrot, beet, cucumber
- Carrot and spinach
- Carrot, celery, parsley
- Take 2-3 plums with pits and crush them. Add one cup of boiling water, mix and obtain the juice. Drink in the morning and the evening.
- Cook soybean sprouts and adzuki beans (1/2 and 1/2 in amounts), cook into a light soup and eat.
- Add lecithin to foods and take as a supplement, up to 1,500 mg per day.
- Take 800 mg of Vitamin E per day in dry form. If you have not taken Vitamin E before, start with a lower dosage (200 mg per day) and slowly increase.
- Good foods to eat are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, onions, garlic, legumes (beans and lentils), cabbage, peppers (mild), whole grains, artichokes, beets, dandelion, and herbs such as cinnamon, licorice and turmeric.
- Do not take Vitamin C with meals as it enhances the absorption of iron. Take at least 1-2 hours after eating.
Eat healthy and live longer! Proper diet is a must for all of us.