December 17, 2015
The liver processes everything we eat and drink. As such, carefully choosing food and beverages makes a big impact on the health of those living with a chronic liver disease like Hepatitis C. Because a majority of dietary planning focuses on what to eat during breakfast, lunch and dinner, snacks often take a backseat to good nutritional intentions.
To aid in Hepatitis C snack planning, consider these four options that range between having the time for food prep and munching on something nutritious while on the go.
Hepatitis C Diet Guidelines
No single dietary plan works for everyone, but the following guidelines are typically advised for those with Hepatitis C.
- Sugar and unrefined carbohydrates (such as soda, sweetened energy drinks, fruit juice, pastries, donuts, cakes, white bread and white pasta)
- Trans-fats, saturated fats and high-fat foods (such as fried foods, butter, margarine, cream, full-fat cheese, bacon, beef, lamb, ham, sausage, fries and chips)
- High sodium foods (such as canned soup, deli meat, frozen dinners, processed foods and chips)
- Vegetables – Place an emphasis on vegetable quantity and variety. Brightly colored vegetables contain potent antioxidants to defend against liver cell damage caused by the Hepatitis C virus.
- Lean protein – Plant-based protein or lean meat choices are best (such as egg whites, nonfat yogurt, beans, nuts, fish and poultry) because they provide the building blocks to construct healthy, new liver cells. Liver cell regeneration helps counteract damage done by the Hepatitis C virus. Read about “The Top 10 Sources of Protein Intake for Hepatitis C.”
- Healthy fat – Not all fats are bad. Healthy fats such as those found in avocado, coconut, nuts, cold-water fish, canola oil and olive oil help reduce inflammation. Reducing inflammation in the liver can prevent liver cell damage caused by the Hepatitis C virus.
- Fiber – Foods high in fiber are valuable to those with Hepatitis C because fiber absorbs excessive fat in the bloodstream for excretion. Excessive fat in the blood can lead to fatty liver disease, a problem that exacerbates Hepatitis C.
Four Snacks that Subdue Hepatitis C
Everyone’s pace is different; some with Hepatitis C work part-time, are unemployed or are retired. Others with Hepatitis C are chasing toddlers around non-stop, own their own business, work two jobs to make ends meet, or put in 60+ hours a week to earn a living. Based on this variability, grabbing a snack means different things to different folks.
The following four snack ideas vary greatly to match up with the range in people’s cook/prep time availability:
- Crudités with hummus or black beans – Raw vegetables such as carrot, celery, bell pepper and cucumber or blanched vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower provide a range of antioxidants and plenty of fiber. Both hummus and black beans are vegan and high in protein. Vegan sources of protein are one of the better options for Hepatitis C because they typically do not contain saturated fat. (Ideally, choose hummus or black beans that are low in sodium.)
- Protein shake – With access to a blender, a carefully chosen protein shake (like Natural Wellness’ UltraNourish) can help satisfy hunger between meals while simultaneously providing liver support. Look for a shake that contains plenty of protein, preferably derived from a vegan protein source like pea. In addition, choose a shake that contains an abundance of antioxidants and fiber with very little sugar, trans fat and saturated fat.
- Salad with lean meat and nuts – Mix fresh, well-washed greens (especially the bitter ones like arugula and dandelion) dressed with some olive oil and lemon juice with a handful of pumpkin seeds and a few pieces of grilled chicken breast for a power snack designed for liver wellness. Bitter greens not only provide antioxidants and fiber, but also stimulate bile movement through the liver. Olive oil and pumpkin seeds contain healthy fat, lemon juice contains antioxidants and also stimulates bile movement, and chicken breast is a good source of lean protein. This option is a bit time consuming to prepare, but is a healthy and tasty snack option!
- Protein bars – Easy to carry around and consume on the go, protein bars are excellent choices for those with little time to fix a snack. However, not all protein bars are created equally. The protein bar should contain protein (from a vegan source), fiber, antioxidants and healthy fat – while also being low in sugar, calories and saturated or trans fats. In addition, the ideal protein bar should be comprised of whole foods without any chemical additives. Natural Wellness’ Superfood Protein Bars (that come in Chocolate Almond, Cherry Cashew Quinoa and Coconut Vanilla Chip) fulfill all of these requirements and can be used to compare against other protein bars for their ability to hinder damage caused by the Hepatitis C virus.
The four snack ideas above are intended to serve as an idea generator, to help get you thinking about how in-between meal snacking can best serve you. Whether you have the time to prepare a thoughtfully constructed salad or need a good protein bar to toss in your bag, make sure your snacks help your liver stay strong as it engages in its daily battle against Hepatitis C.