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Can Diet Help Prevent Hepatitis C?

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  • What is hepatitis C?

    What is hepatitis C?

    Hepatitis C is an infection that affects the liver. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) causes it, and can only be transmitted through blood. This means there is nothing you eat or don’t eat that will help prevent hepatitis C.

    Avoiding obesity, or losing weight if you are overweight, may help some hepatitis C treatments be more effective.

    Obese people are more likely to have a fatty liver. Interferon-based therapies used to treat hepatitis C are less effective in people who have a fatty liver.

    Switching to a low-calorie, low-fat, low-sugar diet could help you lose weight. And it may make your hepatitis C treatment more effective.

  • Hepatitis C diet

    Hepatitis C diet

    If you have been diagnosed with hepatitis C, you should consider making some changes to your diet. The American Liver Foundation recommends limiting foods that contain iron, such as:

    • red meat
    • egg yolks
    • liver

     

    You should also consume less sodium. Salt-free or reduced salt products are a good place to start. Try flavoring your foods with herbs and spices, rather than adding large amounts of salt. Check restaurant nutrition information online to help you make lower sodium choices.

    If you have already developed cirrhosis, you should also limit the amount of meat proteins that you eat, as they are difficult for your liver to process.

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  • What you should be eating

    What you should be eating

    A diet that’s healthy for the liver includes lots of fiber-rich foods, such as:

    • fruits
    • vegetables
    • whole grains
    • legumes

     

    You should also eat more unsaturated vegetable fats from sources such as:

    • olive oil
    • avocados
    • nuts
    • seeds

     

    These fats are healthier than saturated fats, which are more difficult for your liver to break down.

    People with liver disease should limit their calorie intake. This is especially important if you are overweight. Avoid fried foods and high-fat snacks. Instead, try to eat more natural foods and fewer processed ones.

  • What to avoid

    What to avoid

    Fatty liver is often present in people who:

    • are heavy drinkers
    • are obese
    • have diabetes

     

    Avoiding alcohol and reducing the amount of fats you eat could help prevent or improve your condition.

    According to a study published in the journal Hepatology, fructose and other dietary sugars may contribute to the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver.

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  • Treatment for hepatitis C

    Treatment for hepatitis C

    There are some prescription drugs that doctors use to treat hepatitis C. Doctors usually opt for a combination of interferon and ribavirin. This combination kills the virus and also strengthens your body’s defenses. Treatment can take from 6 to 12 months.

    Early treatment is important to prevent severe liver damage. People with hepatitis C can develop cirrhosis after 20 to 30 years of living with hepatitis C.

    Hepatitis C also increases the risk of developing liver cancer.

  • Long-term care and management

    Long-term care and management

    If you have been diagnosed with hepatitis C, you should seek the help and guidance of a hepatologist. This is a doctor who specializes in diseases of the liver.

    A hepatologist can provide information about the disease. And they can help you make lifestyle changes that will promote faster healing.

    Tell your doctor about any prescription medications or supplements you are taking. You might need to switch to a different medication because some drugs are toxic to the liver.

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  • What to expect

    What to expect

    Hepatitis C is manageable with treatment, especially if you start taking medication soon after being infected. Lifestyle choices can also affect your outcome. These include:

    • diet
    • how much alcohol you drink
    • your general health

     

    Untreated hepatitis C can lead to serious liver damage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 20 percent of people with hepatitis C will develop cirrhosis, a condition that causes scarring of the liver. Cirrhosis is dangerous because it can lead to:

    • bleeding
    • high levels of toxins in your body
    • malnutrition

     

    The CDC says that up to 5 percent of people who develop cirrhosis will die because of it.

References:

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