Hepatitis C, or hep C, is a type of liver infection, and the result of infection of the hepatitis C virus (or HCV). Inflammation of the liver can be acute or chronic in nature, with many acute infections becoming chronic. Contact with blood contaminated (i.e., sharing of needles, unsterile tattoo or piercing equipment) is the main cause of hepatitis C. Symptoms may include yellow skin, lack of appetite, pain in the stomach area, and fatigue, while chronic hep C left untreated may lead to a damaged liver.
Luckily, along with doctor-prescribed drug treatments, there are several foods to avoid to ease hep C symptoms and liver damage:
1. Raw oysters or shellfish
Oysters and shellfish filter water that often contain bacteria. When someone eats a raw oyster the bacteria and whatever else was in the water enters the person’s body. It is a bad idea for anyone to eat a raw oyster. All oysters and shellfish need to be cooked to kill contaminants. The risk is just much greater for an individual with hep C.
2. Fatty foods
Fatty foods harm the liver. They prevent the liver from performing its job of removing toxins. Everyone should cut down on the intake of fatty foods. The person with hep C should at all possible cut out fatty foods in their diet. Examples are fried foods, animal fats, processed meat, and certain salad dressings.
3. Sugary foods
The liver only needs one type of sugar, fructose, to function. Refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup will lead to the buildup of fat in the liver. This will eventually damage the liver. As with other foods, a person with hep C already is in a high risk category for liver damage so any food that will further damage the liver must be avoided.
4. Salty foods
The liver takes in too much salt. This causes it to overwork. When the liver is stressed due to hep C, it cannot function. This leads to high blood pressure. It can also be the cause of fluid buildup. This will be noticed in swollen fingers, feet, or legs. Many foods found in cans, such as vegetables or soup, are high in salt content. If a person likes corn, they should purchase corn in the produce section and not in a can. The same applies to all fruits and vegetables. Always read the label on any product for salt and sugar levels. Watch for the word sodium. It is another name for salt. Many products are high in sodium and should not be consumed by a person with hep C.
Hep C is an inflammation of the liver. Patients should avoid any substance that damages the liver. Alcohol, particularly if consumed over the long term, has been proven to be detrimental to the health of the liver. Many people infected with hep C will eventually need a liver transplant. The best policy is to protect the liver as much as possible. That would involve abstaining from alcohol.
All of these foods to avoid for hep C have a common trait; they are not good for the liver and/or impair its function. Avoiding the foods listed above is important as they may aggravate the liver and cause long term damage. Many acute cases of hep C become chronic and can lead to a lifetime of treatment so changes in lifestyle, which may involve avoiding the above list of foods, is essential to manage the disease.