The liver is one of the most important organs that performs various essential functions in the human body, ranging from detoxifying the bloodstream to producing protein and cholesterol and aiding digestion.
What you eat and drink has a significant impact on your liver.
If you are suffering from hepatitis, you should opt for a healthy diet.
Diet And Viral Hepatitis:
Viral hepatitis is a type of inflammation of the liver caused by a viral infection that becomes more compromised when you choose an unhealthy diet. A healthy diet not only minimizes your risk of hepatitis but also preserves healthy liver function (1).
If you have viral hepatitis lingering for more than six months, it is referred to as chronic hepatitis. Chronic viral hepatitis is linked with high nutritional risks in patients. One study reported that chronic hepatitis reduced the fat content, impaired intestinal barrier function, and decreased skeletal muscle (2).
Importance Of Nutrition:
Proper nutrition and a healthy diet are crucial to preserving liver function. If you have viral hepatitis, you may have noticed that fatty liver worsens the condition and speeds up the progression of liver damage. A healthy diet acts as a first-line treatment to decrease the risk of fatty liver and supports liver health.
A balanced diet can also improve the symptoms of viral hepatitis. Some primary symptoms include difficulty eating full meals, joint pain, diarrhea, and constant fatigue. As the disease progresses, the patient experiences loss of muscle mass, malnutrition, and trouble maintaining a healthy weight (3).
Eating a healthy diet will maintain your healthy weight, rebuild muscle mass, sustain energy levels, and accommodate liver function.
Nutritional Considerations To Manage Hepatitis:
The following are some nutritional considerations to decrease the liver impact of viral hepatitis:
- A Low-Fat Diet:
A high-fat diet increases the progression of hepatitis C by contributing to fatty liver disease. A low-fat diet is associated with reduced liver enzyme elevations, reduced inflammation in the liver, and improved immunological abnormalities (4).
- Sanitation And Hygiene:
The risk of developing hepatitis A increases when you consume feces-contaminated and uncooked food and water. Properly cooking and boiling food at 85°C for 60 seconds inactivates the hepatitis A virus (5).
- Avoid Iron-Rich Foods:
A high-iron diet causes the production of iron-catalyzed free radicals that contributes to oxidative stress and increased hepatic iron intake, resulting in the progression of hepatitis C. A lower-iron diet can be helpful in reducing the risk of HCV infection (6).
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines | health.gov [Internet]. [cited 2021 Jul 23]. Available from: https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/previous-dietary-guidelines/2015
- Chang Y, Liu Q-Y, Zhang Q, Rong Y-M, Lu C-Z, Li H. Role of nutritional status and nutritional support in outcome of hepatitis B virus-associated acute-on-chronic liver failure. World J Gastroenterol. 2020 Aug 7;26(29):4288–301.
- Silva LD, Bering T, Rocha GA. The impact of nutrition on quality of life of patients with hepatitis C. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2017 Sep;20(5):420–5.
- PRIME PubMed | Normocaloric low cholesterol diet modulates Th17/Treg balance in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection [Internet]. [cited 2021 Jul 23]. Available from: https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/25532016/full_citation
- PRIME PubMed | Epidemiology and prevention of hepatitis A in travelers [Internet]. [cited 2021 Jul 23]. Available from: https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/24165384/full_citation
- PRIME PubMed | Nutrition therapy for liver diseases based on the status of nutritional intake [Internet]. [cited 2021 Jul 23]. Available from: https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/23197979/full_citation