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Jaundice is not a disease but rather a sign that can occur in many different diseases. Jaundice is the yellowish staining of the skin and sclera (the whites of the eyes) that is caused by high levels of the chemical bilirubin in blood. The color of the skin and sclera vary depending on the level of bilirubin. When the bilirubin level is mildly elevated, they are yellowish. When the bilirubin level is high, they tend to be brown.

Jaundice occurs when there is
1) Too much bilirubin being produced for the liver to remove from the blood. (For example, patients with hemolytic anemia have an abnormally rapid rate of destruction of their red blood cells that releases large amounts of bilirubin into the blood),

2) A defect in the liver that prevents bilirubin from being removed from the blood, converted to bilirubin/glucuronic acid (conjugated) or secreted in bile, or

3) Blockage of the bile ducts that decreases the flow of bile and bilirubin from the liver into the intestines. (For example, the bile ducts can be blocked by cancers, gallstones, or inflammation of the bile ducts).

Dietary Management of Jaundice
When the level of bilirubin is very high, the diet must consist of intake of a lot of fluid. This will help in eliminating the bilirubin through urine and stool. One should stick to liquid diet for at least first five days.

When the level of bilirubin has subsided, one can include light diet of cereal porridge, yogurt and fruit salad. Vegetables like carrots, beans and spinach can also be included.

It is best to have small meals several times day.

At this stage one egg is also recommended, as including lean protein in Jaundice diet results in quick recovery.

Oil, spices, ghee and butter is strictly restricted.

After two more weeks as the level of bilirubin falls to the level of almost normal, Jaundice diet can have light rice, dal, as well as fish. The fish, however, needs to be boiled or steamed without any oil, spices or essence. Inclusion of fish, however, does not allow chicken and meat. They are rich sources of fat and cholesterol which is difficult to digest.

Gradually as the symptoms gets treated, cream, butter and olive oil can be used to cook the food.

Till over fifteen days after recovery, Jaundice diet should avoid fatty and heavy foods which are difficult to digest, as the system takes time to recover and be back in its normal self.

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