Recommended diet and nutrition for patients with hepatitis

Proper dietary guidelines can have a beneficial impact on many diseases, including liver problems. A healthy diet complements the treatment of patients with hepatitis.

Written and verified by the nutritionist Anna Vilarrasa on October 15, 2021.

Last update: October 15, 2021

Proper nutrition is important for patients with hepatitis, although there is no “standard diet” for the disease. People who suffer from this problem should have a healthy and balanced diet, and avoid all those foods and drinks that can contribute to liver damage.

Of course, the diet complements the treatment determined by the specialists and under no circumstances does it replace it. There are no foods that can “cure” hepatitis, but there are foods that contribute to the well-being of the patient.

What is Hepatitis and How Nutrition Can Help Patients With Hepatitis

Hepatitis is a disease that causes inflammation of the liver.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can be of short duration (acute) or prolonged in time (chronic). In both cases, it involves damage to the organ that prevents its normal functioning.

There are several types of hepatitis with different causes and transmission routes:

  • The most common is transmitted by an A, B, C, D or E virus.
  • Alcoholic hepatitis is caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Some toxins and some medications, supplements, or chemicals can cause toxic hepatitis.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis occurs when the immune system attacks the liver and causes cell damage. The cause is unknown but genetics and environment are two of the possible triggers.

Early diagnosis and treatment are important to avoid irreparable damage to the organ. Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure, or liver cancer are some of the possible complications.

Yes OK nutrition in patients with hepatitis is not conducive to cure, it is important to determine good health during illness. A balanced diet allows you to maintain fluid balance and avoid overloading the liver.

Find out which are the most suitable foods, which ones should be avoided and how to organize your diet. If you are interested in knowing more, we invite you to continue reading.

Tips for nutrition in patients with hepatitis

Roughly, the diet for this disease is based on vegetables, whole grains, fruits and lean proteins. This may vary according to the initial state of the patient and his subsequent evolution, but some general guidelines can be established that it is advisable to follow.

  • Eat adequate protein to avoid excesses and deficiencies. These are necessary to restore damaged cells and to avoid malnutrition of the patient. If the liver doesn’t process them properly, toxic waste can build up. The best sources are lean meat and fish, beans, eggs, and low-fat dairy.
  • Usually, it is advisable to increase the presence of carbohydrates with respect to proteins. If possible, opt for whole grains like rice, quinoa, oatmeal, or couscous.
  • Consume fat in moderate amounts. It is not good to eliminate them from the diet as they perform important functions in the body. However, it is essential to choose healthy sources such as olive oil, avocados, nuts or blue fish.
  • Fruits and vegetables are all allowed and are interesting for their nutritional contribution.
  • It is advisable to salt food in moderation and limit its intake in case of fluid retention.
  • Adjust the energy amounts especially in those patients who have lost weight. Some sufferers also experience tiredness and poor appetite. For this reason, it is advisable to eat small meals more often and, if necessary, to eat a small snack before going to sleep.
  • The diet must be easily digested so it is preferable to opt for gentle cooking methods: iron, oven, steam or boiled.

Foods to avoid

Hepatitis patients should avoid fried foods.

An unhealthy diet or some particular foods and drinks can aggravate liver damage already compromised by the disease. For this reason, in nutrition for patients with hepatitis it is preferable to avoid what is listed in the following list.

  • Alcohol: according to the authors Marzano and Peña, with the data available so far, it can be stated that alcohol worsens the degree of liver damage and accelerates its progression. This in turn carries a higher risk of developing more serious problems such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.
  • All refreshing drinks or drinks with added sugars.
  • Raw or undercooked seafood and fish.
  • Fatty meats (like some parts of pork, duck or lamb) and sausages. Likewise, you should avoid fried foods, precooked dishes, sauces and very fatty cooking, and those made with cheese or cream.
  • To control the presence of sodium, it is important to reduce the products that provide large amounts: snacks salty, processed sauces, soup cubes, prepared creams or preserves made with salt.
  • Some patients may need to take a supplement of some vitamins. Although in specific cases it may be necessary to take a supplement, it does not happen in all patients.
  • If there are nutritional deficiencies for any reason, it is the doctor who should guide this supplementation. Some vitamins and minerals are metallized in the liver and if they are administered in excess, they can have negative effects.

Beyond diet: other positive habits

When suffering from liver problems, having a healthy lifestyle minimizes liver damage. One of them is diet, but there are other aspects that also play an important role.

Exercise is an interesting and essential practice. On the one hand, it makes it possible to strengthen the body and prevent loss of strength and muscle tone. On the other, it is a way of coping with the low mood that some people experience.

Nevertheless, this physical activity must be adapted to the patient’s condition and the fatigue situation that hepatitis entails. It is advisable to increase the duration and intensity little by little and always advised by the doctor or specialist.

As mentioned, it is essential to avoid alcohol intake, which causes liver damage and other negative effects on the body. It is also necessary to abandon other habits that can be harmful such as tobacco or drugs. In addition, it is not advisable to self-medicate as some drugs can damage the liver.

Finally, it is interesting to note that during illness it is important to increase hygiene measures. Any virus, bacteria, or toxin present in food can increase the chance of liver damage. To carry it out, it is necessary to wash all food and surfaces as well as to have careful hand hygiene before and after handling them.

Nutrition is of great help in patients with hepatitis

Diet and lifestyle are complementary aspects in the treatment of liver diseases. However, its impact is of great help to preserve liver function, avoid irreversible damage and improve the general health of patients.

A healthy diet that takes into account the aforementioned aspects is the best way to eat in this case. Nevertheless, it is preferable to regulate the diet and have a follow-up with the doctor as each situation may require some more specific changes.

In addition, it is important for each patient to observe their individual tolerance to certain foods as sensations and digestions can vary greatly between different people.

Apart from having specialized help, it is very positive to seek support and contact from family, friends or others affected by hepatitis. Knowing that you are not alone in the face of illness can help you manage it with less stress.

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