Smart Reviews

What to eat if you have hepatitis C

Everything you eat and drink passes through your liver. Your liver changes food into stored energy and chemicals necessary for life. Your liver makes nutrients available so your body can use them to build cells, give you energy, and maintain normal body functions.

If you have hepatitis C, your liver is already dealing with inflammation. Over time, this can lead to scarring (cirrhosis) and reduced liver function. In other words, your liver is dealing with a lot. Eating well may help ease some of this pressure.

People with hepatitis C don’t need to follow a special “hepatitis C diet.” The advice that an average, healthy person gets will work just as well for people with hepatitis C, unless those people also have cirrhosis or another condition, such as diabetes, HIV, or kidney disease.

Being overweight can lead to a fatty liver. When combined with hepatitis C, this can result in cirrhosis.

Drinking alcohol is another factor that can increase damage to the liver, so those with hepatitis C are advised to stop drinking alcohol or limit their intake.

Furthermore, people with hepatitis C are at an increased risk of developing diabetes. This means that a healthful diet is even more crucial for reducing body fat and controlling blood sugar.

A healthful diet can improve the liver health of a person with hepatitis C and reduce the chance of developing cirrhosis. Eating well helps keep the immune system strong to fight off illness.

Foods to eat
Getting the right nutrients is crucial to your overall well-being. Not only can it support a healthy immune system, but it also has a direct effect on weight management.

Fruits and vegetables
Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables are relatively inexpensive and store better than fresh. Different fruits and vegetables have different growing schedules—when a product is in season it is often cheaper and more widely available (for example, apples in the fall, berries in early summer), so take advantage of these deals. Following the natural growing schedule will also add variety to the diet.

Large amounts of protein in the diet can lead to a build-up of protein breakdown products in the blood. This is because they are normally removed through the liver.
If the levels of protein breakdown products are high, a complication known as encephalopathy can occur. This condition affects mental function and often causes brain fog.

Good sources of protein include:

  • turkey
  • fish
  • tofu
  • eggs
  • cheese
  • beans
  • nuts and seeds

Besides providing protein, dairy products are the richest source of calcium and one of the few sources in the diet of vitamin D. Dairy products include milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and puddings made with milk.

Whole grains
Whole grains are a good source of dietary fiber, which promotes healthy bowel function and reduces your risk for heart disease.

Whole grains include:

  • sprouted whole-grain breads
  • whole wheat, buckwheat, or quinoa pastas
  • brown or wild rice
  • Oats

Opt for whole-grain products over white or refined varieties. Whole grains are typically higher in:

  • fiber
  • B vitamins
  • zinc
  • magnesium
  • iron