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Jaundice is caused by the excess bilirubin in the blood. When the haemoglobin breaks down in the blood, bilirubin is formed, which is normally transported to the liver where it combines with bile and then gets eliminated from the body. However, when the liver is unable to filter the bilirubin, it piles up in the blood, causing skin discolouration. Jaundice in adults cannot be treated, but the treatment is given for the underlying condition like liver disease or blocked bile ducts.
Recovering from jaundice can be a trying time for the person afflicted as well as his family. However, the right diet plays a very important role in speeding up the recovery of the patient. Often such diets are very restrictive and boring to the palate. It is hard work for everyone involved to make sure that the patient follows a healthy meal plan to recover soon. This article details the symptoms of jaundice, dietary tips to help in recovery, and foods to avoid during jaundice.
Symptoms of Jaundice
A person suffering from jaundice would display some or all of the symptoms mentioned below:
- Yellow skin
- Whites of the eyes appear yellow
- Pruritus and mild to severe itching
- Pain in the abdomen
- Nausea and fever accompanied by loss of weight
- Darker than usual urine
- Pale stools
What Dietary Elements Should You Choose during Jaundice?
The food you eat when you are suffering from jaundice can help you recover faster. The right food choices will help your body recuperate better. So, include these foods and drinks in your diet:
1. Water and Other Fluids
It is very important to stay hydrated when you have jaundice. To flush out the excess bilirubin, water and fluids are highly essential. It is recommended that a person with the illness should try to drink a minimum of four litres of water every day. Other fluids like buttermilk, clear juices, dal water, coconut water, and chicken broths will also help the body. A clear liquid diet every two hours is what one should start with when diagnosed with jaundice.
2. Herbal Tea or Coffee
Coffee, when consumed in small quantities, is known to reduce liver cirrhosis and help a person recuperate. The level of enzymes that are detrimental to the liver can also be controlled through the consumption of tea or coffee. Herbal teas are also known to reduce inflammation of the liver through their antioxidant properties.
3. Protein-rich Foods
Proteins help in the body’s recovery process because they aid in the repair and regeneration of the damaged cells. Increasing your protein intake when you have jaundice will improve the production of enzymes which in turn aid in boosting hormone production in the body. Lean meats and plant proteins like legumes will help when the liver needs to recover.
4. High-fibre Foods
Dietary fibres are very crucial for the recovery of the liver. Fibres help the movement of the bile through the duct, enable easier bowel movement, and control cholesterol levels in the body. Fibres prevent plaque and fat accumulation in the arteries and liver and help the liver function better. Dietary fibres also help in flushing out toxins faster and ease the stress on the liver, helping it to recover properly.
Vitamins play a significant role in helping jaundice patients recover faster. Vitamin B helps absorb and breakdown the fat in the body. Vitamins A, D, E, and C are important to strengthen the recovering liver. Their antioxidant properties promote bile level increase and help a person recover faster.
6. Carbohydrates with Low Glycaemic Index-GI
Carbohydrates that have a low GI are important to provide energy to the body. If a food has complex sugars and starch, it becomes difficult for the body to break down. Foods like yam, sweet potato, porridges, and rice should be eaten.
Citrus fruits have electrolytes that keep the body charged. They are also high in water which is essential for the body during the recovery process. Fruits like papaya, berries, avocado, melons, and grapefruit are beneficial to a person suffering from jaundice because of their rich enzymes, micro-nutrients, and cellular regeneration capabilities.
The importance of a high-fibre diet cannot be stressed enough. You should eat vegetables, which are high in fibre to speed up your recovery. Vegetables rich in colour pigments have necessary enzymes and compounds that are beneficial to the body and the liver. Beets, carrot, pumpkins, ginger, garlic, limes, turnips, and sprouts can be included in the diet.
9. Foods Rich in Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes like papain and bromelain found in fruits like papaya and pineapple are important to breakdown proteins in food. This can help the liver and the damaged cells to recovery faster.
10. Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is known to contain a component called silymarin which can repair damaged liver cells. It is also rich in antioxidants and can prevent further deterioration of the liver due to oxidative stress. Milk thistle is known to be a safe ingredient; however, it would be prudent to check with a doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Honey has been proven beneficial in treating cases of hepatic damage by obstructive bile ducts. Honey is also rich in digestive enzymes and antioxidants which can be of help during the recovery process. Honey is also known to protect the liver from toxic substances, and the phenolic compounds contribute towards making the liver healthier.
It is a known fact that plain yoghurt is an excellent probiotic which helps flush out toxins from the body. It is better to wait until the fluid diet restrictions are over, though, because the liver may not be able to digest certain foods in the initial stages of recovery.
Foods and Drinks You Must Strictly Avoid
Mentioned below are some foods and drinks that should be avoided if you are suffering from jaundice:
The liver is at its weakest while recovering from jaundice and does not have the propensity to process alcohol. Consumption of alcoholic substances while recovering from jaundice can lead to liver failure. Hence, you must avoid drinking alcohol.
2. Fatty and Fried Foods
Saturated fats and trans fats can affect liver recovery in a negative way. Fried foods are high in fats that can put unnecessary pressure on an already weak liver.
3. Refined Sugars and Carbohydrates
Refined sugars like white bread, maids, pasta etc. should be avoided while recovering from jaundice as they cause fat build-up in the liver.
There is a risk of toxins from uncooked fish affecting your liver when it is weak. Parasites and bacteria in uncooked seafood could be damaging to a jaundice patient, which is why you must avoid eating seafood if you have jaundice.
5. Red Meat
Red meats have a very high amount of amino acids and fats which can strain the liver and therefore, it should be avoided.
6. Canned Foods
Canned foods are very high in salts, nitrates, and sulphates which can dehydrate your body thoroughly and slow down the process of recovery.
7. Salt and Excessive Iron
Excessive use of salt leads to water retention and liver damage. Avoid salt and substitute it with herbs and garlic powder while in your recovery phase.
Iron in excess can cause liver cirrhosis. Speak to a dietician about how much iron is permissible in your diet if you have just been diagnosed with jaundice.
Sample Diet Chart to Follow to Recover from Jaundice
In adults, the underlying cause of jaundice will determine the course of treatment. Acute hepatitis is short-lived while chronic hepatitis may last for more than 6-months and a person who has jaundice due to hepatitis should remain on a restrictive diet for the entire duration.
It is important to remember that a diet for jaundice in a child should be rich in clear fluids, turmeric, lemons, beets, and other nourishing fruits and vegetables. Meals should be small and frequent so that the child does not get fatigued. Make sure that your child’s food is prepared in a hygienic way. Give them purified water or boiled and cooled water to drink. Since prevention is definitely better than a cure, consider getting your child vaccinated against hepatitis.
Mentioned below is the ideal diet for jaundice patients:
|Days/Meal||For Breakfast||Morning Snacks||Mid-day Meal||Evening Snacks||Dinner|
|Monday||Beetroot soup with wheat toast||Barley water and watermelon (1/2 cup)||2 chapatis with boiled vegetables||Sprouts salad (1/2 cup) and fruit juice||Ash gourd curry with rice (1 cup)|
|Tuesday||Carrot soup with buckwheat upma||Tender coconut water with pineapple slices (1/2 cup)||Vegetable khichdi (1 cup)||Steamed gram dal with herbal tea||2 phulkas with ridge gourd curry|
|Wednesday||Tomato and basil soup and millets upma||Watermelon juice with apple slices (1/2 cup)||Plain rice and dal (1 cup)||Puffed rice and juice||Khichdi (1 cup)|
|Thursday||Broccoli and cabbage soup and phulka||Buttermilk and papaya (1/2 cup)||2 phulkas with stewed fish||Steamed lentils and chicken broth||Steamed fish and 2 chapatis|
|Friday||Green peas soup with wheat toast||Chikoo slices (1/2 cup) with tender coconut water||Rice with green vegetable curry (1 cup)||Boiled vegetables (1/2 cup) with vegetable broth||Mixed vegetable curry with millets (1 cup)|
|Saturday||Mixed vegetable soup||Lemon juice with grapefruit (1/2 cup)||Vegetable dosa with yoghurt||Steamed chicken cubes (1/4 cup) with herbal tea||Steamed chicken curry and 2 phulkas|
|Sunday||Roasted bell pepper soup||Apple slices and tender coconut water||Idlis (2 pc) with mild sambhar||Onion soup with cheese slices.||Khichdi (1 cup)|
Tabular reference: https://www.lybrate.com/topic/jaundice-diet
Jaundice can be exhausting for an adult. Children suffer a lot more when affected and need to be given extra care. The right food choices, lots of rest, and a little physical activity can improve liver function and aid recovery. Remember not to lose faith, especially with chronic hepatitis, as it is a long road to recovery. Make sure that you treat your body right so that it can treat you right in the future.