4

votes

My liver is sad. Just got a Hepatitis C diagnosis. Gaining Weight on Paleo. Woof.

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 21, 2011 at 1:24 AM

I'm new here and have a couple in-depth questions. Maybe I should break it into two posts? But-- they are interconnected!

I just got a Hepatitis C diagnosis from my doctor. No idea how I got it and could have had it for years.

I also have had hashimoto's for years. Maybe they're connected.

I've been on a paleo diet for about 7 months--which I started cos I had high hopes of curing my hypothyroidism with diet and lifestyle (no alkie, plus more sleep!!!). While on that journey the bloodtest revealed Hep C. Rats!!

1) I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with supporting the liver with particular Paleo tips. (I'm on milk thistle, alpha lipoic acid, schizandra berry.)

2) Since going Paleo I've gained about 12 unwanted pounds!! (Some's muscle from starting a heavy weight lifting program at the same time & eating lots of protein but there's def some stubb chubb on my middle.) It could be the increase in dietary fat that made me gain weight and I'm starting to suspect it's connected to my liver which has slightly elevated levels--not super high. Does anyone have some tips on helping fat loss along particularly for a slightly strained liver?

I feel good and everyone says I look healthy and youthful for being 43. I was basically on an almost-paleo diet for 2 years prior to my switch to full paleo. Been gluten-frei for 5 years.

Thanks in advance

6651ee423be90b1bfc1e600ef0c53a5e

(30)

on April 06, 2012
at 03:41 PM

Hi! I haven't been around for a while either. Yeah,I take ALA, along with milk thistle, Chinese herbs and some other vitamin / mineral supplements. The other day I asked the advice of Paul Jaminet, author of "Perfect Health Diet" on his website, because he said ketosis and fasting weren't good for people with hep c. He told me I'd be better off on a medium carb diet. Arrgh. Well, I did ask, but today is one of those days when I feel stressed by differing advice. I'm going to experiment with coconut oil, since claims are made about it being good for viral issues, but who knows if that's a fad.

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on March 02, 2012
at 01:00 AM

Hi Bridget, thanks for your answer. Haven't been on in a while so didn't see yr answer. I take per/day: -300 mg Super R-Lipoic Acid -200 mcg Selenium -1 gr N-Acetyl Cysteine -1.5 gr Milk Thistle My specialist is a fantastic, cracker-jack doc @ a research hospital where some of the drug tests have been done, who keeps up on the research and is passionate! I trust her. There are non-peg interferon drugs likely out later this year that sound worth waiting for. Yes, in the meantime--DEF no alkie. Rob Wolf says stay off fruit/fructose but my #'s/tests are good so I'm dabbling & feel ok.

21b36b3de8ff31b0d41e7f0f4b5c1e03

(1688)

on January 12, 2012
at 12:49 AM

Interferon-free drugs that are coming out in 2014 onward are the real game changers (eg PSI-7977). In the meantime there is drugs like TMC435, due out end of next year, which have have posted better results than either Incivek or Victrelis (so far). Might be worth waiting for.

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on November 02, 2011
at 03:29 AM

Thanks for this info Andy. I appreciate it. Are you working with Telapravir or Bocepravir? Or Miravirsen? It's a really exciting time for HCV and I feel grateful for the timing of my diagnosis. Nonetheless, embracing a therapy where people complain of severe rashes, vomiting and exhaustion does not feel easy. With my doctors input and agreement I decided to delay my treatment until next year for work reasons.

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on October 28, 2011
at 02:31 AM

Will email you after din-din;)

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on October 28, 2011
at 01:29 AM

I haven't been on paleohacks for a while but thanks for your answer. GREAT that you had a successful treatment. Congrats! But that sounds like one LONG, grueling treatmen. I am delaying starting treatment until the spring for work and (good) opportunity reasons. I gather you did Riba/Interferon cocktail? There's a new cocktail with 80% success/clearance rate that's only 6 mos long. Incredible. So did you clear your virus? Have you noticed any changes in your body or what you're able to eat or how you digest? If it's better to send a note privately my email is permastain [at] yahoo dott com

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on March 30, 2011
at 02:03 PM

I know I am late with this answer LP, but the way I make weighed measured work is that I premake my breakfat/lunch/snack options for the week. That way I know the serving sizes and everything. The only real variable is dinner, which is easy enough to add in once I'm done for the day. It may seem overwhelming, but once you get into a routine, it's not that bad.

95601768ec9cb75cc3a9cbcd2271ed14

(2206)

on March 23, 2011
at 03:02 PM

And I have yet to see anything about steatorrhea occurring in the early stages of HCV, though, more when cirrhosis is in effect or there is a co-factor like IBS or celiac. So that is partly why I'm a-ok with high fat. (Also, can I admit something totally embarrassing--I didn't even know half of what the liver did until the Hep C diagnosis. Learning basic biology at the same time as making health decisions is really daunting...)

95601768ec9cb75cc3a9cbcd2271ed14

(2206)

on March 23, 2011
at 02:54 PM

I would characterize myself as reasonably confident with periodic bouts of "ZOMG! WHAT IF I AM WRONG AND KILLING MYSELF?!" Luckily those don't come too often. I feel good doing what I am doing and will keep on in a similar vein (anti-inflammatory with a special focus on bile stimulation and antioxidants) unless I am given really compelling evidence that low(er) fat is beneficial. Fortunately HCV is something that is pretty slow moving so we have time to experiment and adjust for new evidence. And wow--that's totally crazy encouraging abt the milk thistle.

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on March 22, 2011
at 09:19 PM

Thanks for the beet recipe. Looks gorgeous.

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on March 22, 2011
at 09:02 PM

'kraut everyday.

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on March 22, 2011
at 09:01 PM

Thanks for that. I notice a trend where men on these boards usually say "eat more" and the women seem to respond with success from a "weighed/measured" protocol. I can hardly bear the thought of keeping track of what I eat but it might be the only way. I'm a pretty busy person and I can't figure out a way that that wouldn't put me over the edge.

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on March 22, 2011
at 08:59 PM

Thanks Amanda. You seem pretty confident about the high protein and fat consumption with Paleo and liver balance. I'm less sure about this, just not fully informed yet. My Dr. did say that protein is more of a concern w/bigger liver woes than I've got. Like you, my enzymes are slightly elevated. A friend told me milk thistle gave her pimples. My Dr. (she specializes in AIDS & Autoimmunity. I go to her for the autoimmun, not aids spec.) says she can't give milk thistle to her AIDS patients because it clears their medicine from the liver too thoroughly. Amazing. I take probiotics and eat some 'k

95601768ec9cb75cc3a9cbcd2271ed14

(2206)

on March 22, 2011
at 04:57 PM

The globe artichoke, relative of milk thistle, is a traditional liver treatment and another food that stimulates bile production. http://www.rain-tree.com/artichoke.htm Looks like it's time to develop an artichoke/dandelion/beet dip!

95601768ec9cb75cc3a9cbcd2271ed14

(2206)

on March 21, 2011
at 11:41 PM

One more thing--dandelion is purported to be good for stimulating bile production and promoting liver health. I've been eating more of the greens.

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on March 21, 2011
at 03:40 PM

Thanks so much for the supplementwatch rec. I'd just really love to lose some fat. I'm running outta pants that fit. I do not wanna buy new clothes!

39a1a0bc7855c084ac59df60fdf9c0dd

(1505)

on March 21, 2011
at 03:06 PM

I don't have much direct experience to address your situation, either. But I wanted to say that I'm sorry you have to face this health challenge. I think no alcohol is key in the long run, so please keep that up!

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on March 21, 2011
at 04:36 AM

I'm not too up on liver supplements, but do want to say good job sticking with paleo and keeping a positive attitude. Oh yeah, and whenever I have supplement questions, I either go to supplementwatch.com or the Office of dietary supplements webpage. Good luck!

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on March 21, 2011
at 04:34 AM

You might want to follow Melissa McEwen at huntgatherlove.com She is co-organizer for the Paleo Meet Up group in NYC. And then there is Dr. K a member on PaleoHacks who is a neurosurgeon in NYC and is a paleo advocate. His profile: http://paleohacks.com/users/2932/dr-k#axzz1HCgV779Z

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on March 21, 2011
at 04:32 AM

You might want to follow Melissa McEwen at http://www.huntgatherlove.com/ She is co-organizer for the Paleo Meet Up group in NYC. And then there is Dr. K a member on PaleoHacks who is a neurosurgeon in NYC and is a paleo advocate.

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on March 21, 2011
at 02:25 AM

Thanks akd. I'm optimistic but I started all this to lose fat and help my thyroid so learning there's YET more obstacles is humbling. I'm curious about your workouts--I see you do some bootcamp style ones. How long are your workouts? I see you have MS too. I'm glad to hear the paleo protocol is helping. Thanks for writing.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on March 21, 2011
at 02:04 AM

i dont know that i can help with your questions, but i wanted to say that im sorry about your new diagnosis. that just really sucks. wishing you good answers and good health.

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6 Answers

4
Bd4be59f5bcfafc3d834d1ec8765eb9e

(336)

on March 30, 2011
at 05:04 AM

This is the wife of this user...

First of all sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I work in medical research dealing directly with new drugs/drug combinations for Hep C. It is an awful disease and I'm glad you are concerned for your health and the diet you are on. I can not give any medical advice, though I will say milk thistle is great for people with Hep c. The good news is that if your disease is in an early stage you probably haven't developed cirosis of the liver which can eventually lead to liver cancer. Although Hep C is a nasty viral disease there are effective treatments like the standard of care, Peg Interferon and Ribavirin. The good news is that many of the new medications being developed are working extremely well at lowering viral count to undetectable levels and effectively curing the disease. Even patients who have been resistant to treatment are seeing results with newer study drugs. I have heard many different people saying that with the improvements in treatment being made Hep C will be virtually cured within the next 5 years. Even if you don't have insurance and you live near a major city or research hospital I would encourage you to look at possibly becoming a member of an investigatory medical trial, as patient expenses are usually fully covered by the institution conducting the trial. Stage 3 trials are the safest to participate in as these are the ones conducted before a drug can be approved by the FDA. In either case I wish you well and want you to know there is hope for ridding yourself of this awful disease.

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on November 02, 2011
at 03:29 AM

Thanks for this info Andy. I appreciate it. Are you working with Telapravir or Bocepravir? Or Miravirsen? It's a really exciting time for HCV and I feel grateful for the timing of my diagnosis. Nonetheless, embracing a therapy where people complain of severe rashes, vomiting and exhaustion does not feel easy. With my doctors input and agreement I decided to delay my treatment until next year for work reasons.

21b36b3de8ff31b0d41e7f0f4b5c1e03

(1688)

on January 12, 2012
at 12:49 AM

Interferon-free drugs that are coming out in 2014 onward are the real game changers (eg PSI-7977). In the meantime there is drugs like TMC435, due out end of next year, which have have posted better results than either Incivek or Victrelis (so far). Might be worth waiting for.

3
95601768ec9cb75cc3a9cbcd2271ed14

(2206)

on March 21, 2011
at 11:01 PM

I was planning on asking a similar question to this in the next week, since I also had bloodwork revealing HCV recently. I do have some ideas on where I could have picked it up, but it doesn't really make it any easier. The nurse practitioner I am seeing seemed really optimistic since my enzyme levels are pretty good, I'm relatively young, I'm not an alcoholic/drug user, and I'm a woman, which are all positives when it comes to Hep C progression. I'll know more specifics when I get my viral load test results on Thursday. I wanted to give a "hi, you aren't alone" wave. Since diagnosis I have become really frustrated with the dietary advice presented in all the literature I was given. It makes zero sense to me that a low-fat/high carb diet would be appropriate for a Hep C patient since the same literature warns of increased risk of diabetes and NAFLD--two conditions that are certainly made worse (if not caused) by such a diet. Not to mention recommending an inflammatory diet for a chronic inflammatory condition. WTF? It just seems like a gross case of fat makes you fat and fat in your liver must come from fat so cut out fat. Ugh. I'm sure you've also come to the conclusion that info out there about diet and hepatitis is woefully inadequate. I have found a few things that I've found helpful recently, though.

A list of common nutrient deficiencies in Hep C patients. Eating paleo obviously gives us a huge leg up on SAD eaters in terms of preventing these deficiencies. My takeaway from this is to be more vigilant about maximizing nutrient dense foods and looking for ways to up anything in this list I may be falling short in (for instance, I started taking a vitamin e supplement since I get next to none from my diet). Everything I've read so far about nutritive therapies for Hep C has a real chicken/egg feel to it. Is liver disease advancing because of vitamin/mineral deficiency or does advancing liver disease make us more prone to vitamin/mineral deficiency? I'm sure there are elements of both, but I'm erring more on the side of the former for overall general health and in the hopes I can prevent any further liver damage.

The connection between gut health and liver disease. I'm definitely taking more probiotics and eating more cultured foods, as well as drinking more bone broths to promote gut healing. One thing I am eating every day are some lacto-femented beets--for the probiotics, vitamins/minerals, and their high level of betaine which shows promise in promoting liver health.

When the liver under performs, hormonal balance can get out of whack. There can be a buildup of certain hormones (estrogen, for example) or poor conversion. Thyroid problems are common. This could be why you are putting on weight--the possible specific connection to paleo is best left to someone who understands metabolic stuff better than me.

A big deal seems to be made about iron overload and HCV. I've seen vegetarian diets recommended more than once as a way to counteract the effect. This study suggests that is relatively rare. Also, as a woman who menstruates, I need to worry way less about hemochromatosis in general.

I can't offer any liver supp recommendations. Milk thistle gives me horrible digestive problems and I am trying to cut back on supplements in general to reduce strain on my liver. (Another friggin' conundrum!)

Long story short, I think we are both in an exceedingly good place for keeping this at bay. Good luck! If you want to communicate off board let me know and I'll give you my e-mail.

95601768ec9cb75cc3a9cbcd2271ed14

(2206)

on March 22, 2011
at 04:57 PM

The globe artichoke, relative of milk thistle, is a traditional liver treatment and another food that stimulates bile production. http://www.rain-tree.com/artichoke.htm Looks like it's time to develop an artichoke/dandelion/beet dip!

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on March 22, 2011
at 09:02 PM

'kraut everyday.

95601768ec9cb75cc3a9cbcd2271ed14

(2206)

on March 21, 2011
at 11:41 PM

One more thing--dandelion is purported to be good for stimulating bile production and promoting liver health. I've been eating more of the greens.

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on March 22, 2011
at 08:59 PM

Thanks Amanda. You seem pretty confident about the high protein and fat consumption with Paleo and liver balance. I'm less sure about this, just not fully informed yet. My Dr. did say that protein is more of a concern w/bigger liver woes than I've got. Like you, my enzymes are slightly elevated. A friend told me milk thistle gave her pimples. My Dr. (she specializes in AIDS & Autoimmunity. I go to her for the autoimmun, not aids spec.) says she can't give milk thistle to her AIDS patients because it clears their medicine from the liver too thoroughly. Amazing. I take probiotics and eat some 'k

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on March 22, 2011
at 09:19 PM

Thanks for the beet recipe. Looks gorgeous.

95601768ec9cb75cc3a9cbcd2271ed14

(2206)

on March 23, 2011
at 03:02 PM

And I have yet to see anything about steatorrhea occurring in the early stages of HCV, though, more when cirrhosis is in effect or there is a co-factor like IBS or celiac. So that is partly why I'm a-ok with high fat. (Also, can I admit something totally embarrassing--I didn't even know half of what the liver did until the Hep C diagnosis. Learning basic biology at the same time as making health decisions is really daunting...)

95601768ec9cb75cc3a9cbcd2271ed14

(2206)

on March 23, 2011
at 02:54 PM

I would characterize myself as reasonably confident with periodic bouts of "ZOMG! WHAT IF I AM WRONG AND KILLING MYSELF?!" Luckily those don't come too often. I feel good doing what I am doing and will keep on in a similar vein (anti-inflammatory with a special focus on bile stimulation and antioxidants) unless I am given really compelling evidence that low(er) fat is beneficial. Fortunately HCV is something that is pretty slow moving so we have time to experiment and adjust for new evidence. And wow--that's totally crazy encouraging abt the milk thistle.

1
6651ee423be90b1bfc1e600ef0c53a5e

on January 11, 2012
at 11:22 PM

Hi,

I don't know how useful I can be to you -- I'm also doing the waving,"Hi! Me too!" and giving my opinion on things mentioned before. I have some ideas about how I may have gotten hep c. I may have had it for 43 years. My liver enzymes are minimally elevated by the numbers, but 'perfect' according to my specialist; a biopsy last year revealed minimal liver damage, and my viral load is about 20 million -- at the time I first got my diagnosis, I had never heard of a viral load over 100,000!. Fortunately, viral load is considered the least important part.

I take Chinese herbs and like them. I saw an acupuncturist for about a year after my diagnosis. I eat lots of probiotic foods and agree that beet kvaas is a great thing to make -- beets themselves are considered a great food for the liver, and artichokes. Dandelion is good for some people, not for others, according to my acupuncturist and aryuvedic doctor (can you tell I live in California?) I take alpha-lipoic acid and milk thistle. I've been eating micro-algae (spirulina and chlorella) for almost thirty years and I think that's the 'secret' of my liver health though it could have nothing to do with that. My liver cells are part of a research project here in San Francisco.

My advice is to pay attention to your body and try to hear its messages about what makes sense for your health; this is a practice over time. The best part of my diagnosis was that it gave me a reason to be more mindful about my health and to experiment; I knew I had a potentially fatal disease, but I wasn't anywhere close to death's door.

I came to Paleo just by paying closer attention to my dietary needs the last few years since my diagnosis. 'They' told me not to eat red meat, and to absolutely not ever consider indulging my desire for liver, and I followed that advice for a couple of years, but I feel in tune with myself enough now to eat them anyway- both those feel really good when I eat them, though I am very careful about quality. Moderation in all things (except alcohol -- avoid that like the plague!), trust your body.

My liver specialist also says new and better treatments are on the way. I'm not holding my breath, because I'm leery of medications, but it does feel good to know that more options will be available to the community at large.

I can't say anything about your thyroid -- several of the docs I've seen looks suspiciously at mine and I suspect there's a connection between hep c and thyroid, but I can't confirm.

Feel free to email me if you want. I've been deep in research for several years on this.

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on March 02, 2012
at 01:00 AM

Hi Bridget, thanks for your answer. Haven't been on in a while so didn't see yr answer. I take per/day: -300 mg Super R-Lipoic Acid -200 mcg Selenium -1 gr N-Acetyl Cysteine -1.5 gr Milk Thistle My specialist is a fantastic, cracker-jack doc @ a research hospital where some of the drug tests have been done, who keeps up on the research and is passionate! I trust her. There are non-peg interferon drugs likely out later this year that sound worth waiting for. Yes, in the meantime--DEF no alkie. Rob Wolf says stay off fruit/fructose but my #'s/tests are good so I'm dabbling & feel ok.

6651ee423be90b1bfc1e600ef0c53a5e

(30)

on April 06, 2012
at 03:41 PM

Hi! I haven't been around for a while either. Yeah,I take ALA, along with milk thistle, Chinese herbs and some other vitamin / mineral supplements. The other day I asked the advice of Paul Jaminet, author of "Perfect Health Diet" on his website, because he said ketosis and fasting weren't good for people with hep c. He told me I'd be better off on a medium carb diet. Arrgh. Well, I did ask, but today is one of those days when I feel stressed by differing advice. I'm going to experiment with coconut oil, since claims are made about it being good for viral issues, but who knows if that's a fad.

1
25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on October 14, 2011
at 08:08 AM

I did 72 weeks of treatment, from 09/07 to 02/09. Successfully. I'm here if you have any questions or need support.

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on October 28, 2011
at 02:31 AM

Will email you after din-din;)

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on October 28, 2011
at 01:29 AM

I haven't been on paleohacks for a while but thanks for your answer. GREAT that you had a successful treatment. Congrats! But that sounds like one LONG, grueling treatmen. I am delaying starting treatment until the spring for work and (good) opportunity reasons. I gather you did Riba/Interferon cocktail? There's a new cocktail with 80% success/clearance rate that's only 6 mos long. Incredible. So did you clear your virus? Have you noticed any changes in your body or what you're able to eat or how you digest? If it's better to send a note privately my email is permastain [at] yahoo dott com

0
A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on March 21, 2011
at 11:11 PM

Regarding weight loss: you might consider tweaking your protein levels. A few of us have discovered that our protein requirements are less than we previously thought and too much protein causes us to gain weight.

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on March 22, 2011
at 09:01 PM

Thanks for that. I notice a trend where men on these boards usually say "eat more" and the women seem to respond with success from a "weighed/measured" protocol. I can hardly bear the thought of keeping track of what I eat but it might be the only way. I'm a pretty busy person and I can't figure out a way that that wouldn't put me over the edge.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on March 30, 2011
at 02:03 PM

I know I am late with this answer LP, but the way I make weighed measured work is that I premake my breakfat/lunch/snack options for the week. That way I know the serving sizes and everything. The only real variable is dinner, which is easy enough to add in once I'm done for the day. It may seem overwhelming, but once you get into a routine, it's not that bad.

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