What to eat when you have Hepatitis C

Everything you eat and drink passes through your liver.  This is an especially important fact to remember if you are one of the 150-200 million people worldwide affected by hepatitis C.  An unhealthy diet, while harsh on the liver for those with no medical condition, can be much more damaging for those suffering from hepatitis C. 

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What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is an infectious disease that primarily affects the liver, and is caused by a virus of the same name.  Hepatitis C can lead to chronic infection of the liver, so keeping your liver as healthy as possible can minimize the harmful side effects of this.  What you eat and drink is your first line of defense against harming your liver.  A diet full of toxins, like alcohol, will damage the liver over time, cause scarring and likely lead to cirrhosis for those with hepatitis C.  Similarly, an unhealthy diet can lead to weight gain, and “fatty” liver, which for those suffering from this virus, can also eventually lead to cirrhosis. 

A good diet on the other hand, can improve liver health, and help those with hepatitis C lower their risk of liver scarring and cirrhosis. A balanced diet can also improve overall liver function and boost the immune system staving off infections.  In general, a healthy lifestyle which includes a clean diet full of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and exercise, can slow down the progression to cirrhosis from this infectious disease.  Those with hepatitis C do not need to adhere to a specific meal plan, just follow a healthy well balanced diet.

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What to eat:

  1. Fresh fruit and vegetables
  2. Whole grains like oats and barley
  3. Brown rice or quinoa
  4. Beans and legumes
  5. Healthy oils, like olive or flaxseed oil
  6.  Lean proteins, like chicken and egg whites
  7. Healthy fats like nuts and avocados
  8. Low-fat or non-dairy products

Foods to Avoid

  • Alcohol: Likely the most important change for anyone diagnosed with hepatitis C, those with the virus are unable to break down this toxin effectively
  • Junk Foods: Foods high in fats, sugars, chemicals and additives pose added stress to the liver
  • Hydrogenated Oils: these are oils that turn solid at room temperature.
  • Dairy Products: Can be hard to digest and increase inflammation
  • Juices or drinks high in sugar:  large amounts of sugar can be a shock to the liver, and lead to weight gain. Both bad for those with Hep C
  • Saturated Fats: found in butter, fatty meat, and fried foods
  • Processed Foods:  These foods contain substances, preservatives, and chemicals that a liver affected by hepatitis C may not be able to break down