Healthy Diet Tips for Hepatitis C
Last updated: February 2022
Dealing with hepatitis C and liver disease is challenging and can make you feel out of control. But there are specific areas you do have control; Your diet is one of those areas. It gives you a sense of being behind the wheel with your health.
Diet and liver function
The old adage "you are what you eat’ is true". What we eat and drink affects our whole body, especially our liver. As the second largest organ in the body, the liver is the body's powerhouse, and helps with many vital functions. When our liver is unhealthy, the entire body is affected, even the immune system, which helps to fight disease.
When working properly, the liver is like a highly efficient engine and filter. What you eat and drink (and any chemicals your body is exposed to) affects your immune system and the body's many other functions.
Why diet matters
It’s important to eat and drink the right fuel in order to operate effectively. Having hepatitis C, I learned healthy diet tips help the liver do its jobs and helps the body build a stronger immune system. Eating an unhealthy diet makes it hard for the liver to break down nutrients and contributes to severe side effects. Like ‘sludge’ in a gas tank, an unhealthy diet can slow down, or worse, compromise liver function.
When I was diagnosed with hepatitis C, in addition to seeing my liver specialist (a hepatologist), I met with a registered dietitian for nutritional counseling for liver disease. Seeking credible advice from a medical professional who specializes in liver disease is very important. I was able to find out what dietary choices were best for patients with hepatitis C.
- Eat foods from all food groups (in healthy portions), including whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
- Eat foods that are high in fiber, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans, and whole grains. Fiber it up, it’s nature's broom to help eliminate toxins from the body.
- Eat a well-balanced diet, but eat lean proteins from poultry, fish, and plant-based proteins.
- Reduce how much red meat eat eat. Red meat difficult for your system to break down, plus it can contribute to bloating.
- Avoid uncooked shellfish, such as oysters, clams or, other fish, as well as uncooked meats.
- Limit food and drinks high in sugar and salt.
- Limit your intake of high-fat foods.
- Limit fried or processed foods as much as possible. These are loaded with high sodium, sugar, harmful fats and chemicals.
- Ask your doctor how you can stay within a healthy weight range. The liver will function better if we’re not over or underweight.
- You may find that eating smaller meals throughout the day is better than large meals. Your liver works harder to break down high fat and larger meals. Eating small meals and healthy snacks can help stabilize blood sugar, avoid cravings, and prevent the bloated, sleepy feeling that can come from eating larger meals.
- Try to limit foods high in sugar and high in sodium (salt). High sodium foods (as well as eating too much protein) will make you retain fluid, leading to excess toxins building-up in the bloodstream.
- Be careful not to limit your protein too much because it can result in a lack of certain amino acids essential for your body to function properly.
- Drink plenty of pure water, filtered is possible. Some estimates say that it's best to drink at least 64-ounces a day. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is like throwing gas on a fire with liver disease and increases damage.