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Diet For People With Jaundice

Figure 1 : The difference between normal and jaundice person


Jaundice is not a disease. It is a problem related to liver or gall bladder. Jaundice causes your skin and white eyes turned yellow.

High bilirubin in red blood cells causes jaundice. Bilirubin is a yellow chemical in the haemoglobin, the substance that carries oxygen in red blood cells. As red blood cells break down, your body will builds new cell to replace them. If the liver cannot produce new blood cells as they break down, bilirubin builds up in the body and your skin may look yellow.

Causes of Jaundice

Infant jaundice is a common condition. Infant jaundice usually occurs because a baby’s liver is not mature enough to get rid of bilirubin in the bloodstream.

In some cases, an underlying disease may cause jaundice. Although complications are rare, a high bilirubin level associated with severe infant jaundice or inadequately treated jaundice may cause brain damage.

Symptoms of Jaundice

The symptoms of jaundice depend on the stage of the disease. The symptoms are:

If the jaundice becomes more severe, the symptoms are :

  1. Nausea and vomiting
  2. Abdominal pain
  3. Fever
  4. Lethargy
  5. Loss of appetite
  6. Headache
  7. Confusion
  8. Abdomen enlargement (Ascites).

Figure 2 : Jaundice.

Diet Management For Jaundice

The list of food that are allowed to be consumed and to be avoided for jaundice

Food group Serving recommendation Allowed food Food to avoid
  • 50 – 60% from energy requirement
  • 6 – 8 servings per day
  • 1 serving =
    ½ cup of rice OR
    1 slice of bread OR
    3 spoons of oat.
  • Encourage to take carbohydrate (high fibre)
  • For example : Brown rice, wholemeal bread, oat, capati and other high fiber products.
  • Nil.
  • 15% from energy requirement
  • 2 – 3 servings per day
  • 1 serving =
    1 match box sized of meat, OR
    1 medium sized fish, OR
    1 medium sized chicken.
  • Encourage to take Indian mackerel, mackerel, barramundi, threadfin and catfish (sources of omega 3)
  • High protein intake is encouraged for tissue replacement and enhance immune system.
  • Fried egg
  • Skin and leg of chicken
  • Limit to only 2 numbers of egg yolk per week.
  • 3 servings per day
  • 1 serving = ½ cup green leafy vegetables (cooked).
  • Increase fibre intake gradually.
  • Limit intake of fried vegetables.
  • 2 servings per day
  • 1 serving =
    1 piece medium (apple, orange, lai) , OR
    1 slice (watermelon, papaya, pineapple).
  • Encourage to take fruit juice (include 2 servings per day).
  • Nil.
Dairy product
  • 1-2 servings per day
  • 1 serving =
    1 glass of milk, OR
    2 slices of cheese, OR
    4 table spoons of powdered milk.
  • Encourage to take skimmed and low fat milk products.
  • Limit creamer, condense milk, full cream milk, evaporated milk.
Fat and oil
  • Less than 25% from energy requirement
  • 1 serving =
    1 tea spoon of cooking oil, OR
    1 tea spoon of mayonnaise, OR
    1 tea spoon of margarine.
  • Encourage cooking method such as roast, baked, soup, steam which reduce oil consumption
  • Encourage to take soy oil, sunflower oil, corn oil (only suitable for stir fried).
  • Limit coconut milk to 2 table spoon per week
  • Limit fried and oily food
  • Limit ghee, butter and peanut butter.
Salt and sugar
  • Take a small amount
  • 1 serving of salt = 1 tea spoon
  • 1 serving of sugar = 1 table spoon.
  • Restriction of sodium intake depends on patient’s condition (such as ascites)
  • Choose less sugar and low sodium products.
  • Limit sweet food such as cake, honey, chocolate and cream.
  • 2-3 litres per day
  • 8 glass per day.
  • Drink plain water as much as you can.
  • Limit caffeine products (tea, coffee and cola) and alcohol beverages.

How to do if patient does not have appetite?

Appetite is different for each individual. Supplements (oral nutrition supplement) is needed to replace energy and protein intake.

Types of oral nutrition supplement is recommended by the Dietitian depends on the problems faced by the people with jaundice. Please seek and get advice from Physician or Dietitian to help you to solve this kind of problem.


Diet management for people with jaundice depends on the severity of the jaundice. You must get advices from the doctor and Dietitian to solve the problem.


  1. Diet Restrictions in Jaundice. Melalui internet: http://www.livestrong.com/article/454027-diet-restrictions-with-jaundice/
  2. Food and Jaundice. Melalui internet: http://www.thechefonline.com/food_health/jaundice_food_basic_step.php
  3. Jaundice Diet Treatment. Melalui internet: http://www.diethealthclub.com/health-issues-and-diet/jaundice/diet.html
  4. Medical Nutrition Therapy Guidelines for Hyperlipidemia. Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia dengan kerjasama Malaysian Dietitians’ Association dan Persatuan Diabetes Malaysia.
  5. Rajah 1 : Perbezaan individu normal dengan jaundis. Melalui internet : http://www.healthkart.com/resources/deal-jaundice-symptoms/
Last reviewed : 28 August 2020
Translator : Faulina binti Khamisan
Accreditor : Harizah binti Mohd Yaacob
Reviewer : Nik Mahani binti Nik Mahmood