Hepatitis C or HCV, is a virus that affects the liver, causing inflammation and fibrosis. Hepatitis C is carried by the blood and other bodily fluids. If left untreated, hepatitis C infection can harm the liver, leading to scarring, cirrhosis, or scarring.
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How hepatitis C affects diet
Everything a person eats or drinks passes through the liver and is converted into energy or chemicals that allow the body to operate properly. Hepatitis C that affects the diet of a person will usually fall into one of the following categories:
- Cirrhosis: Loss of appetite and low energy is often associated with people who have cirrhosis. They can become poorly nourished and may need to avoid salt in their diet.
- Interferon treatment: Side effects of this kind of treatment can lead to nausea, vomiting, sore throat, and loss of appetite.
- Other medical conditions: Other medical conditions along with hepatitis C can lead to a change in diet. These conditions include heart disease, hypertension, kidney disease, and diabetes.
Drinking alcohol is another factor that can increase damage to the liver, so those with hepatitis C are advised to stop drinking alcohol.
Also, with hepatitis C, the chances of developing diabetes is high. This means that a healthful diet is even more crucial for reducing body fat and regulating blood sugar.
A healthful diet can improve the health of the liver with hepatitis C and reduce the chance of developing cirrhosis. Eating well helps keep the immune system strong to combat illness.
Foods to eat
Most people with hepatitis C do not require a special diet, but there are certain foods people can eat to maintain good health of liver.
Protein provides energy and can keep a person feeling full. Replacing a portion of carbohydrates with protein is a good way to reduce the risk of conditions such as diabetes. Good sources of protein include: beans, fish, turkey, eggs, cheese, tofu, nuts and seeds.
Also, protein like dairy products provide protein, vitamin D, and calcium. Low-fat or fat-free versions of dairy are the best alternatives for people with hepatitis C.
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Foods like grains, cereals, and breads, are all complex carbohydrates and are loaded with minerals and B vitamins, as well as fiber and zinc. Complex carbohydrates include: whole oats, brown rice, whole wheat, whole rye, whole oats, wild rice, oatmeal, and wild rice.
Fruit and vegetables
Fresh fruit and vegetables contain minerals and vitamins that helps the liver work properly, but they can also be frozen or canned. People should consume at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily. Leafy green vegetables can reduce fatty acid composition in the liver, so they become beneficial to people with hepatitis C. Good examples include cabbage, spinach, and kale.
Leafy green vegetables are sources of iron, which may be harmful to those with hepatitis C when eaten excessively. People with liver damage may wish to monitor their intake. A doctor or dietitian can help a person determine the right amount for them.
Foods to Avoid
People with hepatitis C should avoid some certain foods so as to limit the risks it may have on the liver.
Fat and oils are vital to store energy, protect body tissues, and transport vitamins round the blood. However, fat can also cause irregularities, such as a fatty accumulation in the liver, leading to cirrhosis.
Instead of consuming saturated fats like those in full-fat dairy products, meat, cookies, and fast food, people with hepatitis C should try to eat unsaturated fats, such as those in fish oils, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
Checking salt consumption is vital for people with hepatitis C, so people with cirrhosis should cut down on sodium for limiting the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. Processed or packaged foods should be avoided. Also, avoid adding raw salt to an already prepared meal.
Those with chronic hepatitis C have difficulties releasing iron. Excess iron can cause an overload in the blood and organs. Iron is vital for the body but should not be taken excessively. Reduce the intake of liver, red meat, and iron-fortified cereals.
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Hepatitis C and blood sugar levels can upsurge the risk of getting diabetes. This is because the liver helps control the levels of blood sugar. Foods rich in sugar, such as candy, desserts, pastries, and desserts, are high in calories, but have little to no nutritional value, and can cause increase in blood sugar.