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World Hepatitis Day 2020: Healthy Diet For Hepatitis B Patients

World Hepatitis Day is observed on 28 July every year. The day aims to create awareness and eradicate the silent killer called viral hepatitis. It is a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, B, C, D and E that can cause both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) liver diseases.

Hepatitis causes 1.4 million deaths every year, being the second major infectious disease after tuberculosis. Studies also mention that nine times more people are affected by hepatitis than HIV [1].

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What Is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is an infection of your liver, causing scarring of the organ, liver failure and cancer and is caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is transmitted through contact with infectious bodily fluids like vaginal secretions or semen, and blood which contains the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The infection can also spread by tattooing, sharing razors, sexual intercourse and body piercing [2].

The earlier you get treatment, the better. The infection usually goes away with a vaccine and a shot of hepatitis B immune globulin [3]. If the infection is active for longer than six months, it means that you have chronic hepatitis B [4].

Sometimes, you might have hepatitis B and might not even know because you do not know the symptoms. However, if you are affected by this virus, you may just have a feeling that you have the flu.

Other symptoms could be feeling very tired, headache, mild fever, belly pain, loss of appetite, stomach discomfort, vomiting, dark urine, tan coloured bowel movements and yellowish eyes and skin. Once all these symptoms vanish, you may get affected by jaundice. Hepatitis B can be diagnosed with simple blood tests [5][6].

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Nutrition And Hepatitis B

It is essential to follow a healthy diet for hepatitis B. A bad diet can sometimes lead to liver problems. If you consume a high-calorie diet, you may gain weight and overweight has a direct impact on the building up of fat in the liver, called "fatty liver" [7].

With World Hepatitis Day just around, we have listed some healthy diet tips that you might have to follow if you are suffering from hepatitis B.

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1. Whole Grains

Unrefined whole grains contain all the nutritional benefits of the grain kernel. This includes the bran and germ. Whole grains are rich in vitamin B, fibre, carbohydrates, minerals and proteins. Whole grains are rich in essential nutrients like vitamin B6, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc and copper. People with hepatitis B suffer from low energy and fatigue; hence, a fuel-rich diet of whole grains can help [8][9].

Include brown rice, buckwheat, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread and millet in your diet.

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2. Fruits

Doctors advise hepatitis B patients to consume a lot of fruits. Apples, oranges, grapes and bananas are a few among them. Eating apples can help hepatitis B patients to improve their immune system, significantly reducing the chance of suffering from a cold [10].

Oranges are rich in vitamin C and increase the body's ability to resist bacteria, thereby enabling the hepatitis B patients to recover faster. It is suitable for hepatitis B patients to eat bananas, given the fact that this fruit has a high calorific value [11].

Consuming grapes can help them to recover their liver health, as they contain minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorous, iron, protein and vitamins B1, B2, B6, C and flavonoids [12]. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), women older than 30 should consume around one and a half cups of fruit and men, two cups every day.

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3. Vegetables

For hepatitis B patients, it is recommended that they eat vegetables every day without fail. Colourful vegetables contain antioxidants, which can protect the liver cells from damage which is like a bonus for hepatitis B patients [13].

According to the USDA, women older than 30 should consume around two to two and a half cups of veggies per day and men, three cups of vegetables. It is good to consume a mix of several veggies rather than sticking to a specific one [14]. Spinach, carrots, mushrooms and natural fungus can help a lot, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes can also be consumed in minimal.

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4. Olive Oil

While it is required to include fats in your diet to stay healthy, you must avoid highly saturated trans-fats. Certain oils, like palm oil, are highly saturated [15]. A good alternative would be olive oil. It is advised by doctors to consume at least 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Try to make your salad and food dressings with cold-pressed olive oil. Other oils recommended for hepatitis B patients are canola oil and flaxseed oil [16].

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5. Eggs

Protein is an essential building block that your body needs to repair and replace tissues that have been damaged. Eggs are a rich source of protein and safe to be consumed by hepatitis B patients [17].

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6. Lean Meat

Lean meat is also a part of a healthy liver diet and can be consumed by hepatitis B patients; however, they should ensure that they do not eat red meat. Chicken is the best option here [18].

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7. Soy Products

While soy products have a lot of health benefits and are also a part of a healthy liver diet, it is vital to remember that you do not consume them in excessive amounts, which can be harmful. Limited quantities should work fine [19].

Other foods that constitute a healthy diet for hepatitis B patients include nuts, seeds, fish, poultry, tofu, whole milk, yoghurt and cheese.

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Foods To Avoid For Hepatitis B

An individual suffering from hepatitis B should cut out all the following from their diet [20]:

  • Processed foods that are high in sodium (salt)
  • Raw or undercooked shellfish (foods such as sushi)
  • Red meat
  • Celery
  • Tomato
  • Seaweed
  • Cabbage
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On A Final Note…

For hepatitis B patients, it is advisable to eat at least three meals a day. If you cannot eat proper quantities with your three meals, have smaller meals about 5-6 times a day.

Read more about: hepatitis nutrition diet liver
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