A Low Fat Diet for People with Hepatitis C

Why does diet matter if you have hepatitis C?

In the most basic terms, the liver’s main function in the body is to sort through what your body is taking in and help the body to decide what is useful (such as vitamins and nutrients) and what is waste (such as artificial ingredients).

The liver then creates proteins that help the blood to move useful items to the proper places within the body and aiding in sending the waste through the appropriate channels so that it turns into the urine and fecal outputs required to exit the body. This process is obviously vital, as it allows the body to make sense of everything being taken in and ensures that everything is properly directed to the right places.

Hepatitis C is a disease of the liver. For those who are carrying hepatitis C, the liver is impacted, both by the virus itself and by needing to sort the chemical compounds in the medication that is prescribed for hepatitis C. As this is challenging on the liver, the way to help the liver to be able to continue to do its job is to be bringing in more of some food items and less of others.

Why is a low fat diet specifically recommended?

Fats are some of the more difficult ingredients for the liver to process.

Fats also cause the body to gain weight, which adds additional stress on organs throughout the body. Gaining weight often leads to a decrease in exercise, difficulties with breathing and proper heart function, and it may lead to difficulty sleeping. Any one of these can tax the body overall and, as the liver is already working extra hard to manage both its original duties and the additional work of processing the hepatitis C virus and the hepatitis C medication(s), the goal is to avoid stressing your liver any more than necessary.

What should I be avoiding?

Trans fats and saturated fats are the top of the list for what to avoid. Both lead to general poor health, which impacts the body as a whole and can produce additional stress on the liver.

Trans fats were once fairly common in “junk food,” but are now much less common, as the Food and Drug Administration is doing its best to force companies to limit or omit trans fats from their food products.

Saturated fats, however, often exist in even the most natural products. Foods to avoid due to their high saturated fat content include red meats (beef and lamp), pork, butter and cream, cheese, lard, and palm oil.

What should I be eating?

Items that grow in nature are your best bet. Fruits and vegetables are typically trans fat and saturated fat free.

If you are uncertain what to choose, many recommend shopping the colors of the rainbow. This means that, when you have finished filling your grocery cart with fruits and vegetables, there should be a rainbow of produce within your cart. This goal should make it easy to see where you are missing items, so you can go back and pick some up before you leave the store.

For example, if you notice that there are no red items in your cart, you can pick up strawberries, apples, or beets. If you are lacking in orange, carrots, cantaloupe, oranges, or tangerines will fill your quota. Yellow items include bananas and squash, blue items are often focused on blueberries (though some include blackberries here, simply to add another option), and purple has everything from boysenberries to purple potatoes, plums, and prunes.

Green is often the easiest option, as there is a huge variety to choose from. You might choose to challenge yourself by dividing this color category into light green and dark green, so you can include items such as celery and green grapes for the lighter hues and broccoli and kale from the darker hues. Don’t forget to include white items like cauliflower and onions too.

Once you’ve filled your cart with produce, make sure to add in lots of protein options, as protein is a building block for the body to repair and build new tissues. Stick with low fat options, such as fish, lean meats, and poultry. For those looking for non-meat options, eggs and nuts are great choices, as are seeds, low-fat milk and cheese, and yogurt.

If you are concerned about the way your diet may be effecting your body, speak with your doctor. S/He will be able to help you figure out how to best alter your eating habits to suit your taste buds and to suit your body’s needs.

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