Dietary Advice for Hepatitis

Hepatitis is a common medical problem, especially in the developing countries. Hepatitis can be of many types namely infective hepatitis (hepatitis A), hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D, hepatitis E and some more, which are very rare. The commonest is hepatitis A or commonly known as infective hepatitis, which is transmitted by feco-oral route i.e. from unsafe drinking water. This disease is common in developing countries due to unavailability of safe drinking water for large number of people in developing countries.

Dietary modifications recommended during hepatitis:

Energy requirements: During hepatitis a high energy diet is advised, to maintain health and to ensure maximum protein utilization. As loss of appetite is a symptom of hepatitis, initially patient may not be able to consume enough food to maintain health. But patient should be encouraged to take more energy dense foods which he/she will be able to take gradually in increasing amount.

Proteins: Protein intake should be high in hepatitis as protein is required for regeneration of liver cells. But in case of severe hepatitis the protein intake should not be very high as the liver may not be able to handle or tolerate the high protein in food. If the liver damage is extensive the protein intake should be lower, sometimes less than normal protein intake.

Carbohydrates: High carbohydrate diet is recommended during hepatitis, as there is increased need of energy. Any source of carbohydrate can be used to provide high energy need.

Fats: The fat consumption should be less in case of hepatitis, as the digestion and absorption of fat is impaired. Fat intake should be reduced and easily digestible fats such as fat from milk, butter, cream, and eggs should be taken more in compared to fats which are difficult to digest like animal fats. But some amount of fat is required to increase the palatability of the food.

Vitamins: The requirement of all vitamins is increased in hepatitis, especially vitamin A, B, C and K. So the diet should be balanced for vitamins and if required vitamin supplementation can be given.

Minerals: The diet of hepatitis should have all the minerals required by us, especially calcium and iron. If diet can not meet the demand of minerals, they can be supplemented.

The objectives of dietary modifications in hepatitis are:

  • To provide optimal nutrition for speedy recovery.
  • To help in the regeneration of live tissue/liver cells (hepatocytes).
  • To prevent further damage to liver cells.
  • To provide symptomatic relief.

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