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Ease Hepatitis with Healthy Summer Foods

by   -  August 21st, 2017

Photo Credit: by Anne Preble from Unsplash.com
Photo Credit: by Anne Preble from Unsplash.com

We’re just around the corner from World Hepatitis Day, which takes place on July 28th. For those of you who’ve heard the term, but are unfamiliar with the overall gist of the disease, viral hepatitis is characterized by inflammation of the liver.

First, some facts…

If you’re like me and lucky enough to not be affected by this virus (or know someone who is), you are one of the few. According to the CDC, an estimated 400 million people worldwide are affected with one of the five types of hepatitis. Of those, 325 million are living with hepatitis B (HBV) or hepatitis C (HCV)—roughly 4% of the world’s population.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the death toll for those with viral hepatitis has increased a whopping 22% since 2000. That’s a pretty significant jump. Why are we seeing such an increase when many other diseases are in decline?

For starters, both affordability and access to medical care worldwide is abysmally low, with only 1% of patients living with hepatitis able to afford the treatments. Additionally, while the overall childhood HBV vaccine has reached an 84% coverage rate, the initial birth dose holds much lower at only 39%. Posing another problem is the fact there is currently no vaccine against HCV at all.

Two of the viral hepatitis types are responsible for 96% of deaths associated with the disease. This is why WHO’s Global Hepatitis Report for 2017 sets its sights on both hepatitis B and C – in an attempt to set baselines for eradication of the disease by 2030. The CDC has released a similar plan, in its 2016-2020 strategic plan.

There are Five Types of Hepatitis

There are a total of five confirmed types of hepatitis. In honor of World Hepatitis Day, let’s take a look at how each is contracted so we can be better informed.

HEPATITIS A (HAV)

Hepatitis A (HAV) is caused by consuming infected food or water because it’s been infected with the HAV virus. Occasionally, people may also develop HAV through unprotected anal-to-oral sex.

HEPATITIS B (HBV)

HBV is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the hepatitis B virus spreading from the infected person to their partner. HBV can be spread through infected contact of blood, semen, and other bodily fluids (vaginal fluids, breast milk, etc.) as well as through needles, razors, toothbrushes, and more.

HEPATITIS C (HCV)

The second deadliest of the hepatitis viruses, HCV is generally spread through contact with contaminated blood, causing the liver to swell—and become damaged if left untreated. HCV for the most part is considered a drug disease, as it’s most often spread through shared needles amongst drug abusers, blood transfusions, hemodialysis, and needle sticks.

HEPATITIS D (HDV)

A person can only contract HDV if they’ve already been infected with HBV. It requires a protein HBV makes to enable it to infect liver cells. It’s spread through the same unprotected sex, shared needles, and contaminated blood as HBV.

HEPATITIS E (HEV)

Similar to HAV, a person contracts HEV through coming into contact with contaminated drinking water which contains the virus. As with HAV, it is also possible to contract HEV through unprotected anal-to-oral sex.

Summer Foods to Combat Hepatitis

When you’re dealing with Hepatitis, it’s vital to consume foods that don’t burden the liver any more than necessary. In addition, the treatment for the virus can leave you feeling sluggish and tired. The good news, is summer is a great time for enjoying foods and still keeping inflammation to your liver at a minimum, while boosting energy levels back up. Let’s take a look at some of the best to enjoy.

Corn on the cob – Nothing says summer like fresh corn on the cob. Full of vitamins, magnesium, fiber, and antioxidants, this veggie packs a punch, all while tasting delicious. Go ahead and enjoy some today.

Grapes – Want to snack? Grab a handful of grapes. It’s a great source of fiber, antioxidants, as well as having the polyphenols found in the skin – making it a great fruit for also combatting heart disease.

Berries – Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries… You name it, they’re good for you. Most berries are full of fiber and antioxidants, so snatch them up while they’re fresh at the farmer’s market and grocery store.

Cantaloupe – Full of vitamin A and C, along with natural sugars, and fiber, this melon tastes great and keeps you hydrated – something we all need on these hot days. Cantaloupe water is rich in potassium and it’s also high in amino acids, which are very beneficial for the liver. Slice up a bunch to share!

Tomatoes – Filled with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and even calcium – there’s nothing better than eating this yummy fruit straight off the vine, adding it to salads, placing them on sandwiches, or chopping them up for stews, soups, and sauces.

Gazpacho Soups – Try some yummy chilled summer soups chalk full of celery, carrots, peppers, beans, corn, and tomatoes. There are tons of great recipes out there for gazpacho soups. Why not experiment with one for supper tonight?

Water – making sure you’re consuming enough water during the summer (and any time!) helps alleviate symptoms caused by HCV. Not to mention, it nourishes the body, keeps your brain functioning optimally, and much more.

Of course, keep in mind there are also some medications your doctor may prescribe if you suffer from chronic hepatitis C. Three that we carry include: Ribavirin, Technivie, and Daklinza. Whatever regimine or medication your doctor prescribes – always follow their instructions and eat a healthy diet to minimize the symptoms of hepatitis.

Remember, the key to staying healthy when you’re living with chronic hepatitis is to minimize the burden on the liver. By eating healthy, and sticking with foods that support a healthy body, immune system, and provide less taxation on the liver –you can’t really go wrong. Hopefully, as we approach World Hepatitis Day, you’re a little more informed about this virus and how it’s contracts. As well as knowing some smart summer foods to keep not only those with HCV happy and healthy, but everyone you know. Have a great summer and stay healthy!

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Carissa Andrews is a freelance writer, graphic designer, and author. You can learn more about her at her website.

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