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Veggies, Liver Health and Hepatitis A

We all know that eating your vegetables is good for you. Unfortunately, they occasionally transmit a hepatitis virus. Especially if already living with liver disease, learn how to reduce this risk so you can benefit from the healthfulness of vegetables.

Just like having any other chronic ailment, learning how to best manage liver disease can reveal conflicting information. Keeping up with science can be frustrating; one day something is good for you, and the next day its harmfulness is exposed. This dichotomy is especially striking when attempting to eat healthfully for the sake of slowing liver disease’s progress. While vegetables constitute some of the best menu items for fighting chronic illness, their capacity to harbor the Hepatitis A virus also makes certain veggies a risky food choice for someone with liver disease.

Pro: Good Health
A growing body of research shows that fruits and vegetables are critical to promoting good health. There is no doubt that consuming fresh produce supplies the ingredients to keep our body’s cells healthy – including liver cells. Many with health concerns choose vegetables as a dietary mainstay because they are naturally:

·    low in calories
·    low in fat and have no cholesterol
·    low in sodium
·    high in vitamins and minerals
·    high in fiber

Freshly juiced fruits and vegetables provide concentrated levels of vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes that are easily absorbed by the intestines. This rapid absorption instantly supplies the liver with the building blocks it needs for regeneration. Dr. Sandra Cabot advises drinking raw fruit and vegetable juice as a means to improve liver function. According to Cabot, raw juice stimulates the function of the bowels, liver and kidneys, a process that increases the breakdown and elimination of toxic chemicals and waste from the body. Additionally, raw juice aids detoxification by increasing the quality and flow of bile.

Con: Hepatitis A
Although this food group consistently ranks first with nutritionists, there is a danger lurking in the world of veggies. Because of their capacity to transmit the Hepatitis A virus, those with liver disease must eat raw vegetables with an air of caution.

Hepatitis A is a virus that attacks the liver and can be spread through unsanitary water used to wash or store fresh fruits and vegetables. It can also be transmitted by poor hygiene among food handlers from the farm to the table, a journey that may stretch around the world. While this virus is typically self-resolving, it can seriously impact someone already living with liver disease. For this reason, most people with some form of liver disease are advised to get vaccinated for Hepatitis A.

Reducing the Risk
By taking these six conscious steps, you can reduce your risk of contracting Hepatitis A and profit from the many advantages of eating your veggies:

1.    Get Vaccinated – Especially if you have liver disease, make certain you have immunity to Hepatitis A through previous exposure or a vaccination.

2.    Wash Thoroughly – Wash your produce at least twice before eating.

3.    Buy Local – Choose vegetables grown locally to avoid out-of-season items shipped from unregulated countries.

4.    Cook – Lightly cook your vegetables to kill any lurking pathogens.

5.    Skip Salad Bars – When dining out, order salads and other raw produce items off the menu. Skip the salad bar because it is more prone to contamination.

6.    Protect – Strengthen your liver cell’s outer shell by supplementing with milk thistle. This herb has been shown to reduce the liver’s susceptibility to harmful substances.

Eating more vegetables is probably one of the easiest and most effective ways to boost your health. Do not let the threat of a contaminated veggie sway you from your mission of consuming foods that benefit your liver. By confirming your immunity to Hepatitis A, diligently washing your produce, choosing crops that are local and in season, lightly cooking your bounty, skipping salad bars and protecting your liver, you can be confident and proud of making vegetables your dietary staple.


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www.aces.edu, Hepatitis Outbreaks Underscore Risks of Raw Food, Dr. Jean Weese, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, 2008.

www.bbc.co.uk, Hepatitis A, Dr. Rob Hicks, BBC Health, 2008.

www.cnn.com, Raw veggies healthy, if washed carefully, The Associated Press, 2008.

www.dmaonline.org, Food Protection Connection: Hepatitis A Outbreak, Sue Grossbauer, Dietary Managers Association, 2008.

www.illinois-liver.com, Hepatitis Treatment Tips, American Liver Foundation, 2008.

www.liverdoctor.com, Hepatitis Recommendations, SCB Inc., 2008.

www.liverdoctor.com, Raw Juices can Save Your Life, SCB, Inc., 2008.

www.umext.maine.edu, Vegetables for Health, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, 2008.

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About the Author

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM is a long time advocate of integrating perspectives on health. With a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester and a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches Institute, Nicole has been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. She has gathered acupuncture licenses in the states of California and New York, is a certified specialist with the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has earned diplomat status with the National Commission of Chinese and Oriental Medicine in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology. In addition to her acupuncture practice that focuses on stress and pain relief, digestion, immunity and oncology, Nicole contributes to the integration of healthcare by writing articles for professional massage therapists and people living with liver disease.

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