Stress, overexertion and going too long without eating can all bring on the symptoms of Gilbert's syndrome. This condition is a common inherited illness that affects how the liver processes bilirubin -- a yellowish pigment made in the liver and a component of bile -- and causes yellowing of the skin and eyes. Other than the resulting change in skin color, Gilbert's syndrome is relatively benign. While there is no special diet needed for the treatment of Gilbert's syndrome, it's important that you eat regularly and include a healthy mix of nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups to keep your liver well.
Importance of Regular Meals
Fasting, which is when you go without food for a long period of time, may trigger the symptoms associated with Gilbert's syndrome. A healthy meal plan that includes regularly scheduled meals and snacks may help prevent the jaundice. A regular eating plan usually includes three meals plus two to three snacks daily. Eating regularly not only helps control the symptoms associated with Gilbert's syndrome but also helps keep energy levels up and aids in hunger control.
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Foods From All the Food Groups
One of the largest organs in your body, the liver is responsible for converting the nutrients from the food you eat into substances it can use, cleaning the blood of toxic waste and storing energy. It's important that you keep your liver in top working order for your health. Gilbert's syndrome does not lead to liver disease, but eating a healthy and balanced diet can help keep your liver healthy and prevent ill effects. A good diet for a healthy liver includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein such as poultry, seafood and tofu, low-fat dairy and healthy fats such as olive oil and avocados.
Get Your Fiber
The American Liver Foundation recommends you include plenty of fiber-rich foods in your diet to keep your liver healthy. Good food sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. Getting more fiber in your diet is not only good for your liver but for your heart and digestive system as well. Men need 30 to 38 grams of fiber a day and women 21 to 25 grams a day. When increasing the fiber in your diet, do so slowly to prevent gas and abdominal pain.
Getting Enough to Drink
Dehydration, which is when your body does not have enough water to carry on its normal functions, may also trigger Gilbert's syndrome. How much you need to drink to stay hydrated varies and depends on climate, exercise and diet. Clemson University Cooperative Extension says, in general, you need 1 quart of water per day for every 50 pounds of body weight. In addition to water, you can meet your fluid needs by drinking 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, unsweetened decaf tea, fat-free milk or fortified soy milk. Making sure you get enough to drink is also important when you're upping your fiber intake.
- NHS Choices: Gilbert's Syndrome
- MedlinePlus: Bilirubin
- American Liver Foundation: Liver Health and Wellness
- NHS Foundation Trust: Berkshire Healthcare: Regular Eating
- PubMed Health: How Does the Liver Work?
- Columbia University Medical Center: How About Fiber?
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Fluid Needs