Hepatitis - Foods to USE and AVOID
The liver is such a powerful filtering organ. Every five minutes, your entire blood supply is filtered through it. As blood filters through, the liver removes the toxins (anything poisonous to your body). The liver has an amazing capacity to keep doing its job even while damaged, but eventually too much damage will reduce liver function. Therefore, it's in your best interest to reduce toxins to your liver.
Some common toxins to the liver:
- Alcohol. People with chronic hepatitis should avoid alcohol since it speeds progression to cirrhosis. People with cirrhosis should absolutely avoid alcohol.
- Unnecessary medicines. Even though medicines are beneficial, they are still toxic chemicals that must be processed by your liver.
- Pesticides and herbicides. Though these can absorb through your skin, they are still toxins ultimately processed by the liver.
- Household chemicals. We use chemicals daily, sometimes without a second thought. People with chronic hepatitis should take extra caution to reduce exposure of these through fumes, ingestion and skin absorption.
- Vitamins and supplements. Some vitamins (K, A, D and E) are very important and necessary for people with chronic hepatitis and many doctors will prescribe vitamin supplements. However, aside from physician-recommended vitamins use caution with additional supplements because they may contain toxins.
- Tobacco products
- Recreational drugs
Animal products - Animal products should be avoided for several reasons. First of all when you consume animal products you consume what that particular animal has consumed. If it was fed with grains that have been chemically sprayed you also are eating those chemicals. Then there are the injections, growth hormones, antibiotics, steroids, etc. If the product is in the form of meat, then you have just added stress to the digestive process, stressing the liver, gall bladder. Meat is one of the hardest foods to digest. It can sit in the stomach for 5-7 days and ferment, causing flu like symptoms, gas, bloating, and even more stress.
Caffeine, including colas, chocolate, coffee, some teas, OTC meds. A good substitute for coffee is an antioxidant herbal tea. Caffeine of course is a stimulant. Stimulating the liver can cause stress to the liver. If you are in the habit of drinking caffeinated beverages you need to eliminate them slowly as they are addicting. If you stop too suddenly you can have withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, irritability, and weak shakes.
Tap water - drink distilled water only. No filtered water. Your tap water may contain more than you bargained for, including chlorine, fluoride, inorganic chemicals and compounds that the liver is not able to process. Filtered water is of course better than tap water but filters breed bacteria. In order to reduce the stress from the liver you need to give it the purest form of water possible which is distilled water. Even the shower you take every day has toxins in it which are absorbed through the skin and inhaled through the lungs. If you can possibly purchase a water filter you would be doing yourself a great favor.
Junk foods - Junk foods are our favorite foods but the name fits, Junk is junk, meaning worthless. Our body does not get a good source of nutrition from junk foods and most often they are full of all the things we need to stay away from, fats, sugars, empty calories, chemicals, additives, etc. Our poor livers don't need this added stress.
White flour unless it is organic and unbleached - Bleached white flour has been chemically processed. Lots of vitamins and minerals are lost during the process, about 78%. When we consume this chemically altered product our bodies need extra vitamins and minerals in order to process it and utilize it. Isn't this the opposite of what we want? We want to eat foods that will nourish the body, not make it work harder.
Hydrogenated oils - Hydrogenated (they are refined) oils are another product that is hard for the liver to handle. Any type of oil or fat that hardens when cold. A better choice would be flaxseed oil or virgin olive oil.
Dairy products (animal) - Dairy foods are extremely hard to digest and again you are eating whatever the animal ate. Yogurt is not considered a dairy product but be sure to read the labels as the commercial brands are usually high in sugar content. A yogurt maker is a great investment.
Fruit juices - Fruit juices are high in concentrated sugar. Sugar is a shock to the liver, stresses the digestive process, stresses the pancreas, and it feeds the virus.
Artificial sweeteners (use liquid stevia instead) - The first word gives you the first clue, artificial. These sweeteners are extremely hard for the liver to process. Your poor liver doesn't even recognize what this substance is.
Processed foods - we all know processed foods contain unnatural substances, preservatives, fillers, and chemically treated substances. Common sense tells us this is not healthy for us.
Enough calories. Anorexia is a symptom associated with advanced cirrhosis that can make it difficult for someone to get enough calories. Usually, this only lasts a short period of time, brief enough for your body to get by on its reserves. However, if it lasts for several days or weeks, you probably aren't getting the nutrition you need. One solution is to discuss with your physician whether you're getting enough food or enough of the right foods.
The right amount of protein. Meats, milk, nuts and cheese are all good sources of protein. Protein is an important nutrient and it's absolutely necessary for good health. People with chronic hepatitis should be able to enjoy moderate amounts of protein without worry. As long as your liver is working properly, protein shouldn't be a problem. However, too much protein is bad for people with advanced cirrhosis and can lead to brain disease as the excess protein accumulates in the blood. Again, the liver is responsible for keeping protein at safe levels, but when the liver is damaged as is the case with decompensated cirrhosis, it can't do as much as it did before. While it's important to eat enough protein, too much is harmful. Talk with your doctor to determine what's the best amount of protein for you.
Enough vitamins and minerals. Some people with chronic hepatitis, especially those with alcoholic hepatitis or advanced cirrhosis, may not be getting enough of the fat-soluble vitamins and necessary minerals they need through their diet. Your doctor or nutritionist may measure your levels of vitamins A, D and E to check your clotting time. One solution to this deficiency is using doctor-prescribed supplements. Otherwise you'll need to make certain you get these vitamins and minerals the old-fashioned way: through a balanced diet.
Prepare Meals with Your Liver In Mind
Low-fat meals. The liver is an incredibly important organ to your body. It's involved with many aspects of nutrition. One important function of the liver is to produce bile, which the body uses to emulsify dietary fats, such as from potato chips or hamburgers. Before the body can absorb the fats and use their nutritional energy, all fats must be prepared by this process. However, depending on the damage to your liver, you might not be able to prepare enough bile to handle a meal high in fats. As a result, you might suffer indigestion because of the undigested fat. One solution is just to eat low-fat foods. An alternative is to eat very small amounts of a high-fat food.
Small meals. Because your liver is damaged, it isn't able to store as much energy as it once could. One of the jobs of the liver is to store the chemical glycogen, which it can quickly give back to the body when it needs immediate energy. Most people can store relatively large amounts of glycogen in their livers, but when the liver is damaged with fibrosis, the scar tissue takes away valuable storage space for glycogen. This explains one reason why people with chronic liver disease often get tired quickly. One solution is to eat small, frequent meals making sure to include carbohydrates. This gives your body the chance to replace its glycogen reserves.
Healthful foods. Your body needs good nutrition whether you have chronic hepatitis or not. To achieve good nutrition means that you're getting the nutrients you need (vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber) from the foods you eat. The quality and types of foods are important: fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats (chicken, turkey, pork) and whole grains (barley, brown rice, whole wheat breads and oat meal).
Exercise. Along with nutrition, exercise is an essential part of good health. Some of the common symptoms associated with chronic hepatitis in the setting of no cirrhosis or cirrhosis that isn't too advanced, such as fatigue or depressed mood, may be improved with regular, moderate exercise. You should begin any exercise program gradually and, depending on your level of health, under a physician's guidance, if needed. Most exercise, however small the amount, is very beneficial to your health and well-being. It is an excellent complement to good nutrition.