Diet and Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is an infectious disease caused by the HBV virus, which affects the liver in an acute or chronic way (the chronic form is widespread especially in those who contract the virus at the time of birth).
About one third of the world's population is infected with the HBV virus, including 240-350 million chronic cases. Diet and Hepatitis BEvery year, more than 750.000 people die of hepatitis B, including about 300.000 from complications (liver cancer).

The disease is widespread above all in Eastern Asia and Sub Saharan Africa, where between 5 and 10% of adults become chronic. The incidence rate in Europe and North America is less than 1% and is decreasing due to the adoption of mandatory vaccination prophylaxis (an obligation that has existed in your country since 1991).
After the infection, in the initial phase, many people have no symptoms while others develop symptoms characterized by: vomiting, jaundice, fatigue, dark urine and abdominal pain (for about two weeks - acute hepatitis disorders rarely lead to death). In the chronic phase there are no symptoms but fatal complications such as cirrhosis and liver cancer can develop (15-25% of chronic cases).


The HBV virus is transmitted through exposure to infected blood or body fluids (sperm, vaginal fluid, etc.), especially at the time of birth or in infancy; It does NOT happen by holding hands, sharing cutlery, kissing, hugging, coughing, sneezing, or breastfeeding.

Unlike hepatitis A and hepatitis E, hepatitis B is NOT spread through the consumption of water or food contaminated with infected stool.

In areas where the disease is rare, the most frequent causes are intravenous drug use and unprotected intercourse. Other risk factors include: health jobs, blood transfusions, dialysis, living with an infected person, traveling to countries with a high infection rate, and living in collective institutions.

Diagnosis occurs 30 to 60 days after exposure by analyzing the blood (for viruses and antibodies).
Since 1982, prevention has mainly been vaccinated (recommended by the World Health Organization from the first day of life).

Nutritional Goals

Since the liver performs many different functions (oncotic pressure, synthesis of transport proteins, production of bile, glycemic homeostasis, drug metabolism, etc.), its possible loss of functionality seriously compromises the balance of the whole organism.
After type B viral infection it is therefore necessary:

  • Decrease the functional demands of the body.
  • Decrease the organ's workload.
  • Facilitate remission from the B virus by supporting the body in the best possible way.

Hepatitis B and Diet

The dietary rules essential to the restoration of the normal condition (healing or chronicization), can be summarized as follows:

  • If present, the removal of ethyl alcohol in the diet. In addition to directly damaging the liver organ, it compromises the metabolism of vitamin B1, the only vitamin that the body is unable to store.
  • If present, elimination of the intake of unnecessary drugs and dietary supplements.
  • Exclusion of unhealthy foods and drinks such as: industrial sweet and savory snacks, french fries, croquettes, pancakes, hamburgers and other fast-foods, sweet drinks (carbonated or not), sweetened American coffees and / or with milk cream, etc; these foods, called junk-food (junk foods), are rich in saturated or hydrogenated fats (with chains in trans conformation), refined carbohydrates (sucrose, maltose, added granular fructose), food additives (dyes, flavor enhancers, preservatives, sweeteners, etc.) and toxins typical of excessively intense cooking (acrylamide, formaldehyde, acrolein, polycyclic aromatics, etc.).
  • Prefer fresh (possibly frozen) or raw foods over processed or refined ones. Many processes, such as bleaching and removing bran from flour, or mixing meat / fish with other ingredients to create sausages or croquettes, use chemical-physical systems that impoverish the food. In some cases, important nutrients and nutritional components such as fiber, vitamins and minerals are reduced by almost 80%. Remember that vitamins are coenzymatic factors essential to various cellular processes and that the liver has one of the most specialized tissues in the whole organism. Normally, the liver is also a rather important vitamin reserve but, if compromised, it does not fulfill this function properly; in this case, the diet must be constantly rich in these nutrients to better support the needs of the organism.
  • Do not eat excessively large or nutritious meals. Excess of energy (fats, carbohydrates and proteins) always causes an overload of liver functions (neoglucogenesis, glycogenosynthesis, lipogenesis, etc.), which is why it is necessary to reduce the volume of meals and increase their number.
  • Do not face prolonged fasts (beyond 12-14 hours). The liver is normally responsible for glycemic homeostasis, therefore, if it is not functioning properly, the glycemic balance may be compromised. Not only that, trying to maintain blood sugar through neoglucogenesis (production of glucose from amino acids, etc.), the liver would have to face an even higher amount of work; in practice it is not certain that, if infected with virus B, the organ will be able to perform this function correctly as well.
  • In case of celiac disease, it is strictly necessary to emphasize food hygiene by meticulously abolishing even traces of gluten. This protein, typical of wheat, spelled, spelled, rye, barley, oats and sorghum, is very harmful for those suffering from specific intolerance. Typically, neglected celiac disease increases the rate of systemic inflammation and can worsen a clinical picture of hepatitis B.
  • Do not drink non-potable water and do not consume potentially contaminated food or drinks. Recall again that, in the case of hepatitis B, the liver loses a percentage of its functionality and would not be able to properly metabolize harmful residues such as chemical traces, drugs, etc.
  • Encourage the consumption of fruit and vegetables. These foods are rich in nutrients and nutritional elements (vitamins, salts, phenolics, etc.) that can help fight inflammation. Fruits and vegetables must be consumed daily in 4-5 total portions of 150-300g each, taking care to place the fruit in secondary meals and / or at breakfast (in order not to excessively increase the glycemic load of the main ones, already rich in cereals, legumes and potatoes).
  • Increase your intake of beneficial nutrients for the liver. In addition to the vitamin, saline and phenolic factors mentioned above, certain phytoelements that play a hepato-protective role are also very useful, such as cynarin and silymarin in artichoke and milk thistle.
  • Emphasize the polyunsaturated fraction of fats to the detriment of the saturated one; in particular, it would be useful to promote the intake of essential fatty acids of the omega 3 group. These are precursors of anti-inflammatory factors and can help the body to reduce general inflammation; on the contrary, it is better not to exceed with omega 6 and in particular with arachidonic acid, which could have a diametrically opposite effect (see in-depth analysis). Specifically, the most recommended foods are: blue fish (mackerel, mackerel, bonito, anchovies, sardines, etc.), some oil seeds (almonds, sesame, etc.) and some cold-pressed vegetable oils (extra virgin olive oil, seeds flax, walnut, etc.).

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