Best and Worst Beverages for Hep C

Theodore Miller | Dec 8, 2015

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Hepatitis C is a disease of the liver and therefore taking care of your liver becomes a priority after being diagnosed with hepatitis C. Since everything you eat and drink passes through your liver, adopting healthy nutritional habits can be beneficial in preventing further liver damage. It is not uncommon to feel the small choices such as nutrition and drinking might not make a difference, however it is often the small steps that end up making the difference long term before starting HCV treatment.

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General drinking habits and hep C

It is important to drink 6-8 glasses of water or some other beverage daily. This can be teas, juice, soups, puddings, yogurts, and other beverages all count as beverages. In the event you are sick you will likely need to take in more fluid than normal. This is especially true if you are losing fluid due to diarrhea or vomiting.

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Alcohol

Not surprisingly, alcohol should be the first drink to eliminate from your diet upon being diagnosed with HCV. Even people not diagnosed with HCV are at risk for liver problems from drinking too much alcohol. High alcohol intake puts people with HCV at much higher risk for developing liver cirrhosis, liver cancers, and other liver diseases.

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Alcohol treatment resources

Drinking is often one of the most difficult habits to quit for some people. It is not unusual to need help quitting drinking and there are resources available to help you.

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Tap water

If possible, it may be helpful to avoid unfiltered tap water. Dependent upon your location tap water can contain microbials, heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, iron, manganese, and other byproducts of water treatment. One study even suggests that mycrosystins found in tap water may be a risk factor for liver cancer and colorectal cancer. In order to avoid toxins and pollutants sometimes found in tap water, it may be beneficial to drink bottled water or use an at home water filter or water filtration system.

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Protein drinks

Whey protein (especially protein from milk) is an essential food with multiple health benefits. Whey protein can act as an antioxidant, antihypertensive, antitumor, hypolipidemic, antiviral, and antibacterial. However, it is often difficult for some people to consume enough protein to meet their daily nutritional needs. Consuming protein drinks or shakes in moderation is beneficial to ensuring you receive enough protein. Consulting a nutritionist to assess your individual daily need is also beneficial to ensure you do not overconsume or under consume.

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Protein powder

One preliminary study examining the benefits of whey protein on 27 humans with HCV found that whey protein was associated with significantly lower biological markers of HCV and liver disease (viral load, inflammatory biological markers, ALT, AST, and other biomarkers). This study suggested whey protein may help reduce liver inflammation and help prevent fibrosis.

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Fruit/Vegetable drinks

Fruits and vegetables are often the portions people have the most difficulty consuming enough of.  Both are low in fat and sodium and provide essential nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and minerals. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that adults get approximately 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit per day. One way to consume these items is to blend a combination of fruits, vegetables, and whey protein power into a smoothie.

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Coffee

Surprisingly, coffee is good for people with hepatitis C. Research has now linked increased coffee consumption to decreased rates of liver disease in patients with hepatitis C. The most notable trial, HALT-C, evaluated the coffee intake of people with HCV undergoing HCV treatment. The study found that individuals who drank 3 cups of coffee or more daily has 53% lower risk of liver disease. It could be inferred from these findings that other caffeinated drinks such as green tea may also be beneficial.