Should You Avoid Gluten If You Have Hepatitis?
Gluten is a large, hard-to-digest protein that gives many foods an appetizing, fluffy, stretchy quality, and is used to make bread rise and hold its form. It is found in so many packaged and baked goods, but it occurs naturally in very commonly used grains such as wheat, barley, rye, spelt and kamut.
You may have noticed an ever-increasing selection of gluten-free foods to buy whilst grocery shopping. These ‘specialty foods’ are becoming more available now in response to the needs of people who experience an array of troubling digestive symptoms. This has led doctors and researchers on the hunt for answers, and greater numbers of people than ever before are being diagnosed with gluten sensitivities and celiac disease.
Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease, whereby consuming even small amounts of gluten damages the villi of the small intestine, interfering with the absorption of nutrients from food. Whilst the incidence of celiac disease is on the rise, it is estimated that non-celiac gluten sensitivity or intolerance is even more common, affecting up to 18 million people in the US.
Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
The following symptoms are common:
Gastrointestinal symptoms include abdominal cramping, gas, flatulence, bloating, gastritis, diarrhea, foul-smelling stools, increase of fat in the stool, nausea, vomiting, bone and joint pain, depression, irritability, fluid retention, easy bruising, general weakness, fatigue, infertility, persistent hunger, malnutrition, nutritional deficiencies, muscle weakness and cramps, skin rashes, dizziness, headaches, and vertigo.
Gluten causes serious damage to the small intestine in people with celiac disease, but also can inflame the gut lining in non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Impaired nutrient absorption can lead to a deficiency of important nutrients required for a healthy immune system, especially selenium and vitamin D. This can lead to worse outcomes in people with hepatitis B or C, because those nutrients are so important for fighting infections. An inflamed gut also means that a higher number of gut waste products get absorbed into the bloodstream and head straight for the liver. The bacterial translocation to the liver can increase liver cell inflammation and death. Thus a healthy gut lining is so important for anyone with hepatitis. Removing gluten from the diet can help heal a leaky gut.
If you believe you could be experiencing symptoms due to the consumption of gluten in your diet, as mentioned above, then a gluten-free diet could not only improve or eradicate symptoms of digestive inflammation, but could go well towards healing your liver as well. This is not really a difficult proposition as gluten-free foods are now readily available to most Americans. Try to base your diet on inherently gluten-free foods, such as vegetables, seafood, poultry, eggs, meat, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fruit.
If you have hepatitis, your liver is already under stress, and your gut may need to recover from the damage caused by gluten; it would be important to also take digestive enzymes and a good probiotic to help in the recovery process. A good liver tonic is also very important to assist with healing your liver.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not designed to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.