HomeHealth A-ZDiet for Jaundice: Foods to Eat and Avoid

Diet for Jaundice: Foods to Eat and Avoid

Jaundice is a disease that is caused by the buildup of bilirubin in the blood. This bilirubin is released during the red blood cell breakdown and is in yellow color. Jaundice causes the skin, eyes, gums to turn yellow. Jaundice is caused by a problem in any of the three stages in bilirubin production.

Jaundice is caused by the failure of the liver or liver disease as the liver is responsible for filtering bilirubin out of the blood. This usually occurs in newborns, young children and adults. The symptoms of jaundice are more visible if the level of bilirubin is 2.5 to 3 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or more.  

The quality or quantity of food a person eats and drinks impacts the function of the liver directly. A liver can function efficiently if a person follows a healthy diet.

What is the importance of diet in jaundice recovery? 

The patient’s diet plays an important in the recovery journey of jaundice and its prevention. The fats in the intestine break during digestion. The breakdown of fats is done with the help of bile produced by the liver. Other functions of a liver are processing most digested nutrients, toxins and medications. However, different nutrients and chemicals are digested and metabolized differently, making some more liver-friendly than others.

When it is difficult for the food to digest, the liver has an extra amount of work. Refined sugars, salt and saturated fats fall under this category. The liver cells get damaged during metabolism by toxins such as alcohol and other medications.  

Foods and liquids that aid improves digestion and metabolism, protect the liver from additional damage, and detoxify the liver are frequently recommended to those who have jaundice. 

The diet plans vary depending on the patient’s severity of jaundice and their underlying medical conditions. The foods and drinks to consume by patients having jaundice include: 

Water 

One of the important ways to recover from jaundice is to stay hydrated. Water helps in quick digestion and helps in flushing out toxins from the kidney and liver. It is needed to drink at least 2 litres of water every day. Some people find the taste of water to be bland. In such cases, they can add a teaspoon of fresh lemon, lime or grape juice to water. This aids in an extra dose of antioxidants.  

Fruits and vegetables 

Fresh fruits and vegetables also limit liver damage because they contain fibre and powerful antioxidants. It also helps indigestion. They also contain liver-friendly nutrients. Some of them are: 

  • Cranberries, blueberries and grapes 
  • Citrus fruits – Lemons, limes 
  • Papaya and watermelon 
  • Pumpkin 
  • Sweet potato and yam 
  • Tomato 
  • Carrot and beetroot 
  • Ginger and garlic 
  • Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts 
  • Avocado 
  • Spinach and collard greens 

Eating whole fruits and vegetables provides optimal health benefits. The patient has to avoid consuming high-calorie, low-fibre products like fruit juices and blends. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) also has to be avoided as it is highly processed and contains refined sugars. 

Coffee and tea 

High doses of antioxidants are also found in coffee and herbal teas. They help in digestion as well. In moderation, coffee is seen to lower the risk of liver conditions, cancer and fibrosis by slowing down the progress. 

Whole grains 

High amounts of liver-friendly nutrients are found in whole grain foods. They contain healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants and minerals. Oats are found to be rich in beta-glucan and improve the function of the liver after the patient consumes it continuously for 12 weeks. 

Nuts and legumes 

Nuts and legumes are rich in antioxidants, vitamin E and phenolic acid. They are also rich in fibre and healthy fats that are beneficial for the liver to function regularly. 

Lean proteins 

Tofu, legumes and fish are considered to be lean proteins that exert less stress on the liver whereas red meat adds stress on the liver. Omega-3 and zinc, found in oily fish like salmon and mackerel, aid in the metabolism of fatty acids, alcohols, carbohydrates, and proteins. 

Milk thistle 

The herb milk thistle is not only abundant in antioxidants but also contains silymarin. Silymarin aids in the healing of liver cells that have been damaged. Add milk thistle leaves to your salad, roast its seeds for a lunchtime snack, or make a fresh herbal tea to reap these advantages. Although milk thistle is typically safe, the patient should consult the doctor before taking it if he/she has any of the following conditions: 

  • Is pregnant 
  • Is breastfeeding 
  • Has a hormone-specific cancer 
  • Taking prescription medications 

What are the foods to avoid for jaundice? 

Iron 

It’s critical to keep track of iron consumption. Too much iron may induce scarring in the liver (cirrhosis). If the patient is seeking to reduce liver problems, he has to figure out the amount of iron he should consume. Consult the doctor about how much protein one should consume, and choose lean proteins like fish and chicken over beef.

Fat 

High-fat and fried foods should be consumed in moderation or avoided altogether to avoid fat accumulation in the liver. Saturated fats, such as those found in meat and dairy, are thought to be more difficult for the liver to digest than unsaturated fats. Even while unsaturated fats like olive oil are healthful, they should be consumed in moderation. Unsaturated fats still play a role in fatty liver disease

Sugar 

Refined sugar and other types of processed sugar can all contribute to the accumulation of liver fat. Many high-sugar processed foods are also high in fat, raising the risk of harm. Always opt for a piece of fruit or low-fat, low-sugar yoghurt. Limiting artificial sweeteners, apart from refined sugar, is an ideal way to reduce extra strain on the liver. 

Salt 

A high-salt diet results in liver damage and water retention. Eliminating processed and canned foods from the diet is a simple method to cut down on sodium. Instead of going for the salt shaker, add flavor to the cuisine with herbs and spices like ginger and garlic .

Alcohol  Do not consume any alcohol until your jaundice is completely gone. Alcohol damages your liver more. If the jaundice is caused by drinking alcohol, do not consume alcohol even after your recovery. Tell your doctor if you need help to quit.

What are some of the tips and tricks to stay healthy? 

Keeping a food journal is an excellent way to get started and stay on track with a jaundice-fighting diet. Make a list of everything one can consume, including what we eat, how much we eat, and when we eat it. One should also pay attention to how they feel after eating, as certain foods may exacerbate the symptoms. 

Some general rules are: 

  • Rather than eating three large meals, it can be split into frequent smaller meals. 
  • Drink water throughout the day 
  • Do not add sugar to tea and coffee 
  • Whole milk and cream can be substituted with low-fat milk or varieties 
  • Alcoholic beverages to be replaced with low-calorie mocktails 

The buildup of bilirubin in the blood causes jaundice. Part of how long it takes to clear out of the system is determined by its fundamental cause. Jaundice can be prevented and relieved with a healthy, well-balanced diet that supports liver health.  

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Verified By Dr K S Soma Sekhar Rao
MBBS, MD(Gen Med), DM(Gastro), Consultant Gastroenterologist Hepatologist & Therapeutic Endoscopist, Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad
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