Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is typically transmitted through contaminated food or water. While hepatitis A usually resolves on its own, it can still be an unpleasant illness that causes fatigue, nausea, fever, and jaundice. Fortunately, being mindful of your diet and avoiding high-risk foods can help lower your chances of contracting the hepatitis A virus.
Exploring Best Foods To Avoid For Hepatitis A
? Raw Oysters and Shellfish Oysters
Clams, mussels, and other shellfish are common sources of hepatitis A transmission. These creatures feed by filtering seawater which can harbor the hepatitis A virus if contaminated by sewage runoff. Eating raw or undercooked shellfish poses the greatest risk, so they should be avoided if trying to prevent hepatitis A. Cooked shellfish is safer.
? Undercooked Meat and Poultry
Raw and undercooked meat and poultry may spread the virus through cross-contamination. Juices from raw meat can contaminate foods or surfaces. Ensure all meat is cooked thoroughly to an internal temperature of at least 145°F to kill harmful viruses and bacteria. Watch out for pink areas and juices running off poultry.
? Raw Sprouts
All types of raw sprouts, including alfalfa, bean, and radish sprouts, are potential vehicles of hepatitis A. The warm and humid conditions needed to grow sprouts are also ideal for viral growth. Cook sprouts thoroughly before eating to reduce the risk.
? Undercooked Eggs
Raw and undercooked egg products like homemade mayonnaise, cake batter, and eggs sunny-side up may be unsafe. Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm. Make sure egg-based sauces and desserts are fully cooked. Commercially manufactured dressings and sauces would not pose a hepatitis risk.
? Unpasteurized Juices and Dairy
Avoid drinking unpasteurized juices, milk, and dairy products, which may harbor unseen contamination. Only consume pasteurized items and dairy to protect against potential hepatitis A exposure. Check labels for the word “pasteurized.”
? Frozen Berries
Imported frozen berries have been linked to past hepatitis A outbreaks. The berries may be contaminated if irrigated with tainted water. Heat high-risk frozen berries to 190°F before eating to kill any lingering viruses.
? Relishes and Salsas
Cold ready-to-eat items like salsa and relish pose a hepatitis risk if made using contaminated ingredients. Only eat chips and dips from sealed packages, not homemade versions that could harbor the virus. Acidic salsa does not kill the hepatitis A virus.
Benefits Of Avoiding High-Risk Foods
- Prevents contracting hepatitis A infection
- Avoids nausea, fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, and jaundice
- Lowers risk of transmitting hepatitis A to others
- Supports overall health by avoiding contaminated foods
Tips To Further Reduce Your Risk
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis A if traveling or at high risk
- Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap before preparing food
- Use gloves and designated cutting boards for raw meats
- Sanitize countertops and cooking tools after preparing raw foods
- Soak high-risk produce in vinegar solution for 5 minutes before cooking
- Cook seafood thoroughly to an internal temperature of 145°F
- Drink only filtered, bottled, or boiled water when traveling
Hepatitis A is extremely contagious and can be easily passed through food and drink.
To reduce your risk of contracting hepatitis A, be diligent about avoiding high-risk foods like raw shellfish, undercooked meats, unpasteurized beverages, and contaminated produce or water. Practicing good hygiene in the kitchen can also help prevent the spread of the virus. Getting vaccinated before traveling provides reliable protection against hepatitis A in the long term.
Paying attention to what you eat and drink can go a long way towards staying healthy and avoiding hepatitis A infection.