Tips for Weight Loss and Healthy Living for People with Hepatitis C
Your doctor is the best person to ask about healthy living with hepatitis C. For many, proactive steps such as losing weight, eating a healthy diet, and exercise go along way in helping your body fight hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C damages the liver while also increasing your risk for associated complications such as heart disease and diabetes. For some people, lifestyle changes that help you lose weight can help reduce hepatic steatosis (fat accumulation in the liver cells). Losing weight can also help reduce fibrosis (or scarring of the liver).
For people who are interested, here are some steps to help with weight loss or weight management:
Alcohol adds additional calories and toxins to your liver. For patients with hepatitis C and liver disease, alcohol is like pouring gas on a fire; It increases the risk of liver damage. In my opinion, it’s not worth it. Protect your liver by decreasing additional calories through eliminating alcohol.
High sugary foods and drinks are made up of “empty” calories with little nutritional value. Sugary foods make you gain weight and increase your risk for further liver damage and diabetes.
Reducing and eliminating sweets will help you lose weight, benefiting not only your liver but lower your risk for diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Eating from a variety of food groups
Selecting foods from different food groups, and eating healthy-size portions, helps reduce weight (or maintain a healthy weight). This might include lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
Eating high-fiber foods
Eating foods with high fiber may help you to manage or reduce your weight. This might include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lentils, and beans. Fiber up! It helps eliminates toxins from the body.
Eating lean proteins
Eating lean proteins from poultry, fish, and plant-based proteins is also an option. You can also consider reducing your red meat intake. Red meat makes your liver work harder because it takes more time for your body to break down and process. You may also consider avoiding or limiting uncooked shellfish (like clams and oysters) or uncooked meat which can have bacteria damaging to the liver.
Eating a balanced protein diet
Excess protein increases fluid and increases toxins in the blood. But, be careful not to reduce your protein intake too much, because a lack of protein can lead to depletion of certain, essential amino acids.
Other tips for losing weight
Reading food labels and using recipes for healthy serving sizes: Using a food and fitness tracker to promote mindfulness is a great tool for losing weight.
Exercising: Mild exercise, such as walking, helps promote weight loss, strengthens muscles and increases stamina and endurance while increasing endorphins (feel-good hormones) in the brain. Walking also decreases stress hormones.
Eating small meals and healthy snacks throughout the day helps stabilize blood sugar, reduces cravings, and keeps the metabolism up.
Drinking lots of pure water: I recommend filtered water, if possible. Strive to drink 64 ounces a day.
Consulting a registered dietitian to help you create a diet best suited for your liver condition. Consult your physician before starting any weight loss or exercise program.
What dietary changes have you made to better manage hep C symptoms? (Select all that apply)