Hepatitis C: Foods to Eat and Avoid

  • Hepatitis C can cause severe liver damage.
  • Eating a healthy diet can help manage hepatitis C and its complications.
  • Salty foods can aggravate liver damage.

The Hepatitis C virus, sometimes called hep C or HCV, affects the liver, resulting in inflammation and fibrosis. HCV is transmitted through the blood and other bodily fluids. Untreated hepatitis C infection can cause liver damage and lead to cirrhosis or scarring. When this happens, a diet change is necessary. 

How hepatitis C affects diet

Hepatitis C can affect a person’s diet through: 

  • Interferon treatment: A kind of treatment that causes appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, and sore throat and mouth.
  • Cirrhosis: Cirrhosis can result in appetite loss and low energy levels. They may need to avoid salty foods.
  • Other medical conditions: Along with hepatitis C, other medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or kidney disease, can require a diet change. 

A special diet is not often necessary for people with hepatitis C. However, a poor diet can cause hepatitis C to damage the liver further. Other factors that can damage the liver and require diet change are:

  • Being overweight 
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Diabetes 

If you have hepatitis C, a healthful diet can improve liver health and reduce the risk of further liver damage. 

Foods to eat

Most people with hepatitis C do not require a special diet. However, there are certain foods people can eat to maintain good liver health.

1. Fruit and vegetables

Green leafy vegetables can lessen fatty acid composition in the liver and benefit people with hepatitis C. However, you need to monitor your intake as leafy greens contain iron that may harm people with hepatitis C. Other fruits and vegetables are also rich in necessary vitamins and minerals that help the liver function properly. Try to consume at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily.

2. Protein

Protein provides energy and a feeling of fullness. Good protein sources include turkey, fish, eggs, tofu, cheese, beans, nuts and seeds, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. 

3. Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates like cereals, bread, and grains, contain B vitamins and minerals, and zinc and fiber.

Foods to avoid

People with hepatitis C should avoid or limit certain foods due to the damage they may cause to the liver.

1. Fat

Meat, fast foods, and snack products contain saturated fats and should be avoided.

Small amounts of fat and oils are essential for energy, body tissue protection, and vitamin transport throughout the blood. However, too much fat in the liver can lead to cirrhosis.

Try to consume unsaturated fats found in olive oil, fish oils, and nuts and seeds. 

2. Salt

For people with hepatitis C and cirrhosis, reducing sodium intake is vital to prevent ascites or fluid buildup in the abdomen. Avoid eating processed foods to limit your salt intake.

3. Sugar

The liver helps with blood sugar regulation. Sugary foods such as pastries, desserts, and candy, can cause blood sugar spikes, increasing the risk of diabetes. 

4. Iron

People with chronic hepatitis C have trouble releasing iron. Excess iron can harm the blood and organs of people with hepatitis C. However, iron is also important for body function. Consider limiting consumption of iron-rich foods, like red meat, liver, and iron-fortified cereals. 

Source: Medical News Today

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