Hepatitis C Diet
For most people, a hepatitis C diet is the same healthy diet a person without hepatitis C should follow. However, those who are taking combination therapy for hepatitis C or who have cirrhosis of the liver may need a special hepatitis C diet. Whether or not you have hepatitis C, it's important to: maintain a healthy body weight; eat a diet that is low in fats and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; and watch your sodium intake. People who have hepatitis C should eliminate alcohol from their diet.
Hepatitis C Diet: An OverviewMost people with hepatitis C do not need a special diet. What's most important is that you try to eat healthy foods and do not become overweight. The advice that an average, healthy person gets will work just as well for people with hepatitis C -- unless those people also have cirrhosis (scarring) or another condition, such as diabetes, HIV, or kidney disease.
Two groups that may need a special hepatitis C diet are those on hepatitis C combination therapy and those with cirrhosis.
Hepatitis C, Diet, and the LiverEverything you eat and drink passes through your liver. The liver changes food into stored energy and the chemicals necessary for life. Your liver makes nutrients available so your body can use them to:
- Build cells
- Give you energy
- Maintain normal body functions.
A bad diet for someone with hepatitis C can sometimes lead to liver problems. If your diet contains too many calories, you will gain weight. Being overweight is linked to the buildup of fat in the liver, called "fatty liver." Over many years, fatty liver likely contributes to a person with hepatitis C developing cirrhosis. Being overweight and having fatty liver also have been shown in a number of studies to lead to lower rates of hepatitis C clearance in patients treated with interferon and ribavirin.
One's diet also can contain toxins that are harmful to the liver. Some toxins act quickly. For example, eating certain poisonous mushrooms can cause liver failure and death within days. Other toxins, such as alcohol, damage the liver over time.
On the other hand, a good hepatitis C diet can improve liver health in a person with hepatitis C. A balanced diet can lead to better liver functioning and lowered risk of cirrhosis of the liver. It also can help the immune system stay strong and fight off illness.
Finally, people infected with hepatitis C have higher rates of diabetes than those who are not infected, but a good diet can help reduce body fat and control blood sugar. This lowers the risk of developing diabetes.