Many dieticians and medical experts working with hepatitis C feel that except for alcohol, diet has little direct effect on the activity of the virus and the outcome of long-term infection.
There is no specific dietary approach that can be recommended which can guarantee to alter the outcome of any particular liver disease. This isn’t to say that modifying your diet has no effect.
Nutrition and the liver are interrelated in many ways.
Everything we eat, breathe and absorb through our skin must be refined and detoxified by the liver, special attention to nutrition and diet can help keep the liver healthy.
85-90% of the blood that leaves the stomach and intestines caries important nutrients to the liver where they are converted into substances the body can use.
Bitter foods are useful as they stimulate the digestive process and assist the liver. Eating salads containing bitter leaves such as dandelion or chicory 10-15 minutes before meals is a long-standing European recipe to aid the liver.
In Taiwan, a diet high in vegetables was associated with a lowered risk of liver cancer in people with hepatitis C.
Vegetable juices have a particular nature that helps lessen the bloated and stagnant feelings often associated with liver conditions.
Vegetable juices act to flush out the body and relieve some of the symptoms that people with liver disease experience, such as heaviness and lethargy. The juice of carrots, beets, cucumber, spinach, celery , wheat grass and parsley are all used in liver cleansing fasts, and are generally thought to be good for livers.
Drinking 2-3 liters of water each day is universally recommended for good health, but also protects against lymphatic congestion, which would put further strain on the liver.
As for diets in particular, The Alternative Medicine Guide says:
Jonathan Wright, M.D. recommends a diet low in protein to minimize stress on the liver. Whole foods diet that follows a hypoglycemic regime, of small meals throughout the day, avoiding stressor foods such as refined sugars, alcohol, and caffeine. Consume plenty of filtered water. Drinking fresh lemon juice water every morning and evening followed by vegetable juice is one of the most therapeutic regimes for the liver. Do this consistently for two to four weeks and then several mornings a week for several months and whenever liver symptoms reoccur. Have lots of vegetables each day. Ideal is at least one salad and one meal of steamed or lightly sauteed vegetables per day. Grains that are easily digestible, such as millet, buckwheat, and quinoa are very good.
According to the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine:
A natural diet, low in natural and synthetically saturated fats, simple carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, fruit juice, honey, etc), oxidized fatty acids (fried oils) and animal fat, and high in fiber is recommended.
And this from the Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition: “Natural substances to help your liver detoxify are as close as your kitchen cupboard. Eating foods rich in lecithin (soybean), essential fatty acids (salmon, flax oil) and green leafy vegetables rich in fiber and antioxidants like vitamins C and E, are all gourmet cuisine for your liver. Lowering your intake of saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and animal protein and avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol are other recommendations that are good both for your liver and overall body health. Dandelion root and artichoke are both excellent spring time dietary condiments that are very helpful in improving liver bile flow. In addition to these food choices, supplements like L-methionine are an excellent choice for a congested liver. This sulfur-containing amino acid not only improves bile flow but also helps protect liver glutathione. Glutathione peroxidase is one of the body’s major detoxification enzymes and is in part defended by methionine during a toxic challenge to the liver...” The article goes on to describe the function of Milk Thistle.
It concludes that the most potent substances for protecting the liver are Milk Thistle, Dandelion and L-methionine. L-methionine is classed as a “supplement,” and Milk Thistle and Dandelion as “botanical medicines.” - “Protecting and Enhancing Liver Function,” by Ronald G. Reichert, ND, Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition (#161, March 1996): pp. 14-16.