Have you noticed a sudden yellow discoloration of your skin? Yes, that may be Jaundice. Jaundice is a common liver disorder. It is also referred to as icterus and is a condition that occurs when there is a significant and rapid increase in bilirubin level (1). Jaundice may happen to people of all ages. But in this article, we share natural healthy food for treatment and speedy recovery. For despite the prescribed medications given, the liver needs to heal. A good way to help this healing process is by having a proper diet plan and exposing the liver to less harm.
What is Jaundice / Hyperbilirubinemia?
Jaundice is a condition that arises when there is a significant and rapid increase in bilirubin level. It is not a disease, rather a visible sign of an underlying disease. The consistent trigger of the jaundice condition is the inflammation of the liver. This inflammation may be a result of different health conditions.
The liver functions to filter waste out of the blood, and this includes bilirubin. Bilirubin is the yellow-orange colored bile pigment, a waste fluid from the breakdown of red blood corpuscles in the blood (2). This bilirubin is collected from the bloodstream into the liver. When the bilirubin is secreted in the liver, other chemicals attach to it, resulting in a substance called conjugated bilirubin (3). The conjugated bilirubin is passed out through the bile ducts as bile and is responsible for the brown color of feces. When the bilirubin level is excess, it leaks unto surrounding tissues, a condition called hyperbilirubinemia, resulting in yellow coloration.
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Because of this excessive increase in bilirubin level, the skin, mucous membranes, and the whites of the eye (sclera) turn yellow. The yellow coloration may vary to certain degrees, depending on the bilirubin levels (4). For a moderate level increase, the color may appear yellow, but for an excessively high increase, the color may appear brown. Because jaundice is a visible sign of an underlying disease, the discoloration may be accompanied by other symptoms.
Symptoms of Jaundice
The symptoms of jaundice may depend on the severity of the underlying causes. These symptoms include
- Abdominal pains
- Nausea and vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms – weakness, loss of appetite
- Weight loss (5)
- Dark coloration of urine
- A clay coloration of stool
- Swelling of the legs
- Change in skin color
- Chills and Fever
- Skin itching
- Rectal bleeding
Causes of Jaundice
Jaundice may be caused by different underlying diseases or conditions such as
- Gilbert’s syndrome (6)
- Large bruises
- Excessive breakdown of red blood cells
- Thyroid problems
- Obstruction of the bile duct. This may be caused by pancreatitis, cancer, or gallstones.
- Not eating food for a prolonged period
- Sickle cell disease
- Medications – This may include chlorpromazine, penicillin, and acetaminophen
- Liver diseases such as hepatitis or cirrhosis
- Autoimmune disorders
Types of Jaundice
Jaundice is classified into three types
1. Intrahepatic or Hepatocellular jaundice – This jaundice is caused by disease or injury in the liver resulting in a dysfunction of the liver cells.
2. Hemolytic or Pre-hepatic jaundice – This is caused by a rapid increase in the breakdown of red blood corpuscles, a condition known as hemolysis. It results in a rapid increase of bilirubin levels, and because of the rapid process, the liver is unable to conjugate the bilirubin sufficiently. The successfully conjugated bilirubin will be excreted, while the unconjugated bilirubin remains and results in jaundice (7).
3. Obstructive or Post-hepatic jaundice – This is a result of the inability of the bilirubin to leave the liver, as a result of an obstruction in the bile duct.
Who is at risk of getting Jaundice?
You may have greater chances of getting jaundice if you
- Have hereditary conditions such as thalassemia
- Consume alcohol heavily
- Have not been vaccinated for hepatitis
- Take drug injections of substances
- Participate in high-risk sexual activities
- Consume raw shellfish excessively
The Effect of Diet on Jaundice
Your diet plan is of major importance in the prevention and recovery of jaundice. This is because jaundice is a liver disorder, and the liver metabolizes every substance digested, including toxins, nutrients, and medications. It helps in the conversion of food nutrients into energy, it also removes toxins and old blood cells from the body. These are major activities of the overall body wellbeing and when the liver has to process unhealthy food substances, it disrupts its actions (8). This disruption results in the buildup of bilirubin.
Eating a healthy meal may help prevent or reduce disruptions in liver functions, and enable the liver to work efficiently. These healthy intakes are called liver-friendly substances. And when ingested, they function to improve digestion and metabolism processes, detoxify the liver, and protect it from further damages.
23 Liver-friendly Natural Foods to Cure Jaundice
These natural foods may help relieve jaundice symptoms and facilitate recovery.
1. Fruits and Vegetables
These categories of food contain fibers, powerful antioxidants, and digestive enzymes that ease digestion processes and prevents liver damage during metabolism. They include
- Papaya – contains rich digestive enzymes
- Mangoes – contains rich digestive enzymes
- Avocados and olives
- Lemon or lime, grapefruits – The antioxidant property functions to detoxify the liver.
- Blueberries, cranberries, and grapes
- Ginger and garlic
- Spinach and collard greens
- Vegetables including broccoli, Brussels, and cauliflower.
2. Sweet potatoes and yam
Contains liver-friendly nutrients and helps in the healing process.
Contains essential nutrients including vitamin C. It may help detoxify the liver cells by getting rid of toxic substances including bilirubin. It also functions to rejuvenate and restore the functionality of the liver.
4. Barley Water
Has diuretic functions that may help the jaundice healing process.
5. Whole Grains
These foods contain liver-friendly nutrients including fibers, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats. An example of whole grains is Oatmeal (9).
6. Legumes and nuts
Legumes and nuts contain rich amounts of fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants such as vitamin E and phenolic acid. An example is a walnut.
7. Coriander Seed Water
Coriander seed water may help cleanse the liver and bloodstream of excess bilirubin and toxins.
This functions to strengthen the liver and restore its functional efficiency.
9. Coffee and Herbal Tea
These should be consumed moderately. The caffeine and antioxidants properties stimulate digestion and metabolism. It may also help to reduce the risk of cirrhosis, reduce liver inflammation and reduce harmful enzymes.
10. Basil Leaves
This may help get rid of excess bilirubin in the liver and restore the effective functioning of the liver.
11. Lean Proteins
Lean proteins contain omega-3 and zinc. These components may help improve the metabolism of fatty acids, carbohydrates, proteins, and alcohol. Examples of lean proteins include fish (oil species such as mackerel and salmon) and tofu.
Wheatgrass may help to stimulate enzyme secretions in the liver and eliminate excess bilirubin.
The rich antioxidant content of tomatoes may help improve jaundice recovery. Tomatoes contain lycopene and vitamin C.
Consuming fresh radish (root vegetable and leaves blended into juice) may help get rid of excess bilirubin in the body, this improves the jaundice healing process.
Functions as a natural detoxifier, cleansing the liver cells and getting rid of excess bilirubin.
Take adequate water daily, it helps get rid of toxins – harmful waste products in the liver. Take at least 8 glasses daily.
17. Milk Thistle or Silymarin
This contains high quantities of antioxidants which may help in the repairs of damaged liver cells. However, there are some restrictions to milk thistle. You may need to consult your doctor before taking it if you are breastfeeding a baby, pregnant, taking certain prescribed medications, or have been diagnosed with cancer.
Contains digestive enzymes that improve metabolism.
19. Mustard Greens
Increases natural fiber content and helps in the recovery process.
Contains high amounts of calcium and iron. They function in fighting the signs and symptoms of jaundice and facilitates the healing process.
21. Brussel Sprouts
Contains antioxidants and fiber and good for liver health.
Contains electrolytes and potassium. These function to help remove toxins from the body.
Proves energy and may speed up the recovery process.
Foods to Avoid
While trying to heal from jaundice, you may need to avoid taking certain food and drinks. These foods are liver-unfriendly and sabotage the healing process. They include
The by-product of alcohol is processed and metabolized by the liver and this applies intense pressure on the inflamed liver cells. Excessive consumption may cause further damage such as chronic inflammation, fibrosis, and reduced liver function.
2. Refined Carbohydrate
This contains large amounts of refined sugar. Such food includes baked goods, pasta, and white bread.
Diets with high salt content should be avoided.
4. Packed and Canned Foods
Most of them may contain large amounts of preservatives including salts such as sulfates and nitrates. These salts dehydrate the body and alter digestive and metabolism processes, which adds stress on the liver.
5. Saturated and Trans Fats
These are animal fats. They may be found in fried, oily foods, cheese, full-fat yogurts, and whole milk. These fats trigger liver changes and increase insulin resistance levels.
6. Smoked Foods
May contain large amounts of preservatives including salts such as sulfates and nitrates. These salts dehydrate the body and alter digestive and metabolism processes, which adds stress on the liver.
7. Uncooked Fish, including Shellfish
These raw and uncooked fish may contain toxins, viruses, parasites, and bacteria which may introduce toxins that infect and damage the liver.
8. Beef and Pork
They contain large amounts of animal fats and amino acids which may not be easily digestible. Processing and metabolizing these foods put a toll on the liver.
Side Effects of Jaundice
Possible complications and side effects of jaundice treatment includes
- Abdominal pains
- Passing our gas
- Stomach upset
- Nausea and vomiting
Jaundice is a condition that arises when there is a significant and rapid increase in bilirubin level in the liver. It is not a disease, rather a visible sign of an underlying disease. The consistent trigger of jaundice is the inflammation of the liver. This inflammation may be caused by different health conditions. The liver helps in the conversion of food nutrients into energy, it also removes toxins and old blood cells from the body. Therefore, to facilitate the healing process and restore efficient functioning of the liver, we may need to pay close attention to the diet plan and consume more liver-friendly foods. This helps save the liver from the stress of metabolizing toxic substances from our unhealthy food consumption choices. These liver-friendly foods when ingested may help improve digestion and metabolism processes, detoxify the liver, and protect it from further damages.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How is jaundice treated?
Jaundice in adults is not treated. Rather your doctor identifies the underlying cause and treats it. It is not as severe as infant jaundice. Also, the symptoms may be treated specifically for immediate relief.
Where do you notice the first visible signs of jaundice?
The first sign you may notice will be the discoloration of the sclera (the white of the eyes). If the jaundice is mild, discoloration to yellow may be the only visible sign.
How long is the jaundice treatment process?
This may last for two weeks to one month. It may be determined by the amount of excess bilirubin and toxins to be gotten rid of. It may also be affected by the underlying health condition that caused jaundice.
- “Jaundice” – en.wikipedia.org
- “Jaundice in Adults (Hyperbilirubinemia)” – medicinenet.com
- “Adult Jaundice” – clevelandclinic.org
- “Types of jaundice” – medicalnewstoday.com
- “All about post-hepatic jaundice” – healthline.com
- “Jaundice” -facs.org
- “Jaundice” – teachmesurgery.com
- “What to eat” – medicalnewstoday.com
- “Diet for High Bilirubin” – livestrong.com