What is Jaundice?
Jaundice is also technically named icterus. This liver disease is characterised by elevated bilirubin levels manifested as yellowish or greenish pigmentation of the skin and sclera.
Jaundice in adults most often signifies an underlying disease involving abnormal liver dysfunction, heme metabolism or biliary-tract obstruction.
Jaundice is uncommon in adults, but it frequently occurs in babies, affecting nearly 80 % of infants during the first week of their life. Itching, dark urine and pale faeces are the most common symptoms of Jaundice.
The symptoms of Jaundice become prominent when the bilirubin level is 2.5 to 3 mg/dL or higher.
What is the importance of diet in Jaundice recovery?
Food is the body’s primary energy source and is required for medicines to work effectively. A well-balanced diet not only keeps a person healthy but also renders a variety of nutrients necessary for disease prevention.
Incorporating foods from all major food components, namely carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals, and adequate water, is essential for combating diseases. Diet is crucial during Jaundice to hasten liver recovery.
Fats break down in the intestine during digestion. The liver produces the bile required for the breakdown of fats.
Diet for Jaundice
A diet low in fat and protein and high in carbohydrates and water will boost the recovery of the liver.
The first and foremost step in the Jaundice recovery process is drinking plenty of water.
Water not only provides hydration but also helps in flushing out toxins out of the body. It is highly recommended to drink a lot of water during the day. Also, one can infuse some lemon, mint, and cucumber in the water as a detox.
Sipping water throughout the day will also help maintain the electrolyte balance and prevent weakness.
Fruits are abundant in phytochemicals, which are biologically active substances that can help protect an individual from liver diseases.
Furthermore, antioxidants found in fruits have a role in detoxification and the elimination of toxins and harmful free radicals.
Fresh fruits help to protect the liver due to the presence of fibre and antioxidants. It also aids digestion. They also have nutrients that are beneficial to the liver.
Consuming whole fruits provide the most incredible health benefits compared to fruit juices. Fruit juices are rich in calories and low in fibre and can elevate blood sugar levels.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is also not preferred since it is highly processed and contains refined sugar.
Liver-friendly fruits include,
Being low in fat, sugar and salt and high in dietary fibre and digestive enzymes, vegetables are preferred in the Jaundice diet.
Liver-friendly vegetables include,
- Sweet potato
- Garlic and ginger
- Cruciferous vegetables like Broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens
Restricting caffeinated beverages like coffee is best since they slow the Jaundice recovery process and further harm the liver.
Moderate coffee consumption regularly has been shown to reduce the risk and slows the progression of liver disease, cancer and fibrosis.
Due to their high antioxidant content, teas reduce liver inflammation and aid in digestion, helping in Jaundice recovery.
- Whole Grains
Whole grains may help the body recover from Jaundice by providing much needed energy for the patient.
These foods promote healthy digestion by adding bulk to stools and are beneficial in relieving the extra load on the liver due to their high fibre content.
While in the initial phase of recovery, the focus of the diet is on providing whole grains in semi-liquid consistency in the form of porridge or khichdi.
Whole grains that can be a part of the Jaundice diet are
- Whole wheat
Nuts are filled with omega-3 fatty acids, essential for vital body processes such as brain function and liver health. They are low in carbohydrates, high in good fats and an excellent source of selenium and magnesium.
All nuts, including almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios and walnuts, are beneficial. Among them, walnuts have the highest amount of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, making them stand out as a nutrient-dense package.
Walnuts are also high in arginine, an amino acid that aids in natural liver cleansing.
Legumes are loaded with antioxidants, phenolic acid and vitamin E, along with fibre and healthy fats. All these nutrients work together and help the liver function smoothly, making them ideal for a Jaundice patient.
- Lean proteins
Proteins support the body’s recovery process by assisting in repairing and regenerating damaged cells.
People with Jaundice must increase their protein intake to improve the production of enzymes, which will aid in the secretion of hormones in the body.
Lean proteins are the preferred form of proteins for liver recovery. Fish, legumes and tofu are good choices for Jaundice patients.
- Milk thistle
A research article titled “Milk Thistle: Effects on Liver Disease and Cirrhosis and Clinical Adverse Effects: Summary” suggests that milk thistle possesses hepatoprotective properties through its mechanisms. This includes antioxidant activity, antifibrotic activity, increased protein synthesis, toxin blockage at the membrane level and possible anti-inflammatory or immunomodulatory effects.
What are the foods to avoid for Jaundice?
Some foods cause strain on the liver. Avoiding such non-liver-friendly foods during Jaundice helps in the improvement of the condition.
Long-term iron storage and iron overload harm the liver and other vital organs.
Severe damage to the liver causes scarring or hardening of the organ, medically known as cirrhosis.
Therefore, It is crucial to monitor iron consumption for liver disease.
Fried foods are generally bad for health due to their high oil and saturated fat content. These junk foods can accumulate fat in the liver while weakening the organ and resulting in fatty liver.
Processed foods, cheese, creams, chips, pastries and desserts are high in unhealthy fats and preservatives, so consider limiting the intake of these foods to recover from Jaundice.
Sugar, either refined or processed, can contribute to fat deposition in the liver.
Many high-sugar, high-fat processed foods increase the risk of harm. Choosing low-fat, low-sugar yoghurt or fruit is best for Jaundice.
Aside from refined sugar, limiting artificial sweeteners is best to relieve extra strain on the liver.
Processed and packaged foods contain a high amount of the sour ingredient—salt, which can easily harm an already damaged liver.
Frozen meats, canned foods and beverages, pasta, chips, white bread, wafers and other similar foods contain salty preservatives like nitrates and sulphates that can cause dehydration while interfering with various bodily processes, stressing the liver’s condition.
Keeping an eye on the salt intake is important since too much sodium can impair the ability to function. Swapping salty foods with easily digestible healthy foods like stew, soups and porridge is liver-friendly.
Raw and uncooked food consumption poses a high risk of contamination, which can easily harm the weakened liver.
Furthermore, because of the weakness caused by Jaundice, such foods are difficult to digest and can aggravate jaundice symptoms. It is advisable to restrict eating raw salads or vegetables and undercooked meat or seafood.
Jaundice weakens the liver, and alcohol’s direct impact on the liver can exacerbate the symptoms of Jaundice.
The breakdown of toxic chemicals in alcohol can cause liver inflammation and lead to liver cirrhosis, further compromising the already compromised liver from Jaundice.
Tips and tricks to stay healthy
Jaundice takes a toll on the health of the person affected. It can be mild, but when left untreated, the disease can even be fatal. So, learning the tips and tricks to stay healthy and recover from the disease is essential.
Small, frequent meals
Smaller, more frequent meals in the daily eating patterns can also help a patient have a faster metabolism than while skipping meals. So, rather than choosing to have large meals, they can be split into small and frequent meals.
Drink water throughout the day
Drinking at least 3-4 litres of water daily will help avoid or treat Jaundice. Water has numerous health advantages. It not only keeps the body hydrated but also improves blood circulation and eliminates waste.
To ward off Jaundice, fruit juice can also be consumed. But sweetened water should be avoided to maintain good health.
Obesity is linked to the onset of Jaundice. Fat cells not only raise the body’s cholesterol level but also increase the risk of gallstones. Maintaining a healthy BMI is crucial for the liver to function properly and be healthy.
Since sugar adds additional strain to the liver and other organs, staying away from the ingredient keeps a person healthy.
Avoid dairy products
Whole milk and cream have fat content. Fat digestion is hampered in Jaundice patients due to compromised liver functions. It is therefore advisable to restrict dairy products, which can be substituted with low-fat dairy items.
Alcohol consumption has the potential to cause a slow death. They have adverse effects on the liver, which terminate in Jaundice and other complex diseases.
It also takes a long time for an alcoholic to recover from Jaundice. To prevent the disease and to stay healthy, it makes sense to abstain from alcohol or limit it to the bare minimum. Also, alcoholic beverages can be swapped with mocktails of low calories.
Maintain good hygiene
Maintaining good hygiene is an effective way to combat Jaundice. Trivial but vital things like washing hands before meals, brushing teeth twice a day, taking regular baths and wearing clean and washed clothes will ensure that the liver is not infected in any way.
The liver is a primary organ for removing toxins from the body. When this process is disrupted, bilirubin accumulates, resulting in Jaundice.
The diet pattern and social habits directly impact the liver’s functions. Following a jaundice diet will help the liver work more efficiently. This may reduce the risk of future jaundice occurrence.
People with Jaundice should restrict from consuming foods that are difficult to process and adds strain to the liver. A dietitian may help with personalised diet charts.
Which food is good for Jaundice?
People with Jaundice should take plenty of fluids, including water. Other foods like herbal tea, nutritious vegetables, nuts, lean protein, legumes and whole grains are food for Jaundice.
Is egg good for Jaundice?
Egg whites are no harm to Jaundice patients. Due to the high protein content, eggs can be difficult to digest. So, people with this disease can refrain from eating eggs.
Is banana good for Jaundice?
Bananas are not meant for Jaundice patients. The high fibre content in the fruit exerts pressure on the digestive system. Adding to this is the increase in bilirubin levels caused by banana intake, which elevates the effects of Jaundice.
When can I eat normal food after Jaundice?
When the liver parameters are within the normal range, regular food can be taken. Homemade food is preferable for six months after recovery.
Can I eat rice in Jaundice?
Yes, rice can be taken in Jaundice.