Hepatitis C, often called Hep C, is a condition that harms the liver. Because everything a person eats and drinks travels through the liver, when the liver is damaged, it may change the way they need to eat. However, there isn’t a specific Hep C diet, but there are some foods that can help support the liver, and foods that can make things worse.
Foods to Eat
Although the foods a person with Hep C eats won’t cure the virus, they can help keep the liver as healthy as possible. Some of the foods that can help are:
• Fruits and Vegetables: The vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables are essential to proper liver function. Most people should eat five helpings of fruits and vegetables daily. Fresh is best, but canned and frozen are also healthy choices. Choose vegetables in lots of different colors to get a variety of vitamins.
• Lean Protein: Protein is a necessity for fueling the body, but protein choices should be lean. Plant-based proteins, like beans and nuts, are good choices. Low-fat dairy is also a good source of protein. Other sources of lean protein include turkey, fish, and egg whites.
• Complex Carbs: Foods that contain complex carbohydrates are rich in B vitamins and minerals. Some good sources of complex carbs are brown rice, whole wheat, wild rice, oatmeal, and whole rye.
Foods to Avoid
Certain foods can adversely affect the liver. To protect the liver, limit or reduce these foods:
• Fats: The body needs some fats, but too much of it can worsen liver problems. When fats build up in the liver, it can lead to cirrhosis. When choosing fats, go for unsaturated fats, like those found in seeds, olive oil, and nuts. Avoid or limit the saturated fats that are present in meat, fast food, and sweets.
• Salt: Reduction of sodium is especially important for people with cirrhosis because too much sodium can lead to a buildup of fluids in the abdomen. Avoiding processed foods can help lower salt intake.
• Sugar: There may be a link between Hep C and blood sugar, which may increase diabetes risk.
• Iron: Hep C can make it hard for the body to get rid of excess iron, causing the blood and organs to have too much iron in them. However, iron should not be completely eliminated since the body needs some.
If your aging family member has Hep C, home care can help them with managing the condition. A home care provider can assist with planning and prepare healthy foods that support liver function. Home care providers can also remind the older adult to take medications prescribed by the doctor.