On occasion of world Hepatitis Day, it is important we understand the burden caused by this disease condition and can have high potential for spread. Hepatitis can be stopped if effective a nation initiates mass vaccination.

If one lists out the most important organs of human body, liver will feature in it at the top. Liver is of primary importance, as one cannot survive without liver. The pancreas and liver are essential to digestion and metabolism. The liver is the largest solid gland in the body, weighing approximately 1500 g, and carries out more than 500 functions including important ones like metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, storage and activation of vitamins and minerals, formation and excretion of bile.

A healthy liver functions very efficiently. But a diseased liver can be dangerous for life. And Hepatitis is one such disease that can cause serious damage to the liver. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, and is caused by Hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, & E. These 5 cause the highest burden of illness and death and have the highest potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread. Types B and C cause 1.3 million deaths per year – more than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria. 

With the availability of effective vaccines and treatments for hepatitis B and cure for hepatitis C, the elimination of viral hepatitis is achievable, but greater awareness and understanding of the disease. It’s equally important to take care of the health of a hepatitis patient, especially when it comes to diet.

Today, on World Hepatitis Day, we look at how to manage one’s diet and health when dealing with Hepatitis.

How to maintain diet and health during hepatitis? 

A Hepatitis patient’s diet must include foods which are relaxing and have a cooling effect on the liver. Therefore, a well-balanced diet including whole grains, proteins, dairy, fruits, vegetables and fats and adequate amount of water, are important to regenerate liver cells as quickly as possible.

Let’s get into the details of some dietary and health measures to be maintained for the well-being of a Hepatitis patient.

Enough Carbohydrates – The best carbohydrates are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fruits and vegetables also provide antioxidants that help fight cell damage. Whole grains, found in cereals and breads, have more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than processed ones.

Lean Protein – Protein is an essential building block which your body needs to repair and replace tissue that has been damaged. A Hepatitis patient should look for a wide array of food items with lean protein, like skinless chicken, fish, beans, egg whites, seeds, and yogurt.

Low-fat meals – Include healthy fats in your diet like olive oil and avoid trans-fats that are highly saturated, like beef, lamb, pork, poultry skin, cheese, butter, whole milk, cream and lard. Avoid anything cooked in palm oil as it is highly saturated.

Limit Processed Foods and Sodium – Limit foods and drinks that are high in sugar and salt, fatty foods and processed or fried foods. Avoid raw and undercooked shellfish.

Avoid alcohol and unnecessary medicines – Hepatitis patients should avoid alcohol since it speeds progression to cirrhosis. They should avoid medicines that may not be required, after consulting the doctor, as medicines are toxic chemicals to be processed by the liver.

Exercise – Exercise is an essential part of anyone’s good health, so is it with Hepatitis patients too. Fatigue or depressed mood, in cases of less advanced stages of Hepatitis, may be improved with regular, moderate exercise. Any exercise program can be begun with under a physician’s guidance. Even a small amount of exercise is very beneficial to the patient’s health and well-being and serves an excellent complement to good nutrition to stay within a healthy weight range for the liver to function better.

There may still be no treatment for acute Hepatitis, but the liver even under a Hepatitis condition can still be protected through the dietary and lifestyle choices as suggested above. Living with Hepatitis can be challenging but by following healthy measures like these, can improve one’s chances of living a long and healthy life.