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World Hepatitis Day
6 Ways to Support Your Liver – World Hepatitis Day
July 28th is dedicated to raising awareness for viral hepatitis, a group of infectious diseases (A through E) that affects millions of people worldwide. Deaths from hepatitis have been increasing, with over one million succumbing to the disease each year.
For those with any of the 5 types of hepatitis, it is important to consume a healthy, nutritious diet to support the liver and prevent disease progression.
What is viral hepatitis?
Viral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. The different types of the virus are named A, B, C, D, and E. The most common ones are A, B and C.
Hepatitis A is caused by hepatitis A virus, which can be found in contaminated food or water or in the stool and blood of infected individuals. Hepatitis A is preventable via vaccine.
Hepatitis B is caused by hepatitis B virus, which can be contracted from the blood, semen, or other body fluids of an infected individual. Hepatitis B is preventable via vaccine.
Hepatitis C is caused by hepatitis C virus, which can be spread by contact with the blood of an infected individual (typically by sharing needles). There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, but if detected early, it can be treated.
Hepatitis can be acute or chronic depending on whether the disease has been resolved within 6 months. Symptoms of the disease include fatigue, nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, and jaundice (yellowing of skin/eyes). However, some individuals have no symptoms.
Healthy eating tips to prevent hepatitis-associated liver damage
- Consume a healthy, well-balanced diet that incorporates fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, low- or non-fat dairy, and healthy fats.
- Eat cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, and kale, which are known to have protective factors to promote liver health.
- Eat enough protein to prevent malnutrition and muscle wasting (i.e. chicken, fish, and other lean meats).
- Check for mold on food products to prevent the consumption of aflatoxins, which are known to be carcinogenic.
- Maintain an adequate vitamin D status by taking supplements, going outside in the sun, or consuming foods high in vitamin D (i.e. fatty fish, mushrooms). Vitamin D deficiency is common in people with chronic liver disease due to the inability of the liver to convert vitamin D into its active form.
- Drink 2 cups of drip coffee, which has been shown to significantly decrease advanced liver scarring in individuals with hepatitis.
When living with hepatitis, here are the foods to avoid:
Consuming a lot of foods that are high in fat and sugar promotes liver damage and a fatty liver, which contribute to cirrhosis (scarring). Cirrhosis of the liver prevents the organ from functioning properly. Moreover, fats in the liver can prevent the medications meant to combat hepatitis from functioning to their fullest extent.
These foods include:
- Foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, such as butter, sour cream, and other foods high in dairy, as well as fatty cuts of meat and fried foods
- Foods that are high in added sugars (i.e. cookies, cakes, sodas)
- Foods that are high in salt
- Raw or undercooked shellfish (i.e. clams, mussels, oysters, scallops)
Want to learn more? Check out the Liver Disease Fact Sheet on our website here.
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