What Not To Eat When You Have Gilbert Syndrome?

Gilbert Syndrome is a genetic condition in which liver is not able to dispose bilirubin from the system, thus leading to elevated bilirubin levels in the blood. Bilirubin is a byproduct of the normal breakdown of red blood cells component hemoglobin. It is frequently found in American and European people.

Causes and Symptoms of Gilbert Syndrome

Gilbert Syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by mutation in promoter gene located in chromosome 2 for UGT (uridine diphosphate glucuronyl transferase) enzyme that is essential for metabolism of bilirubin.

Although, Gilbert Syndrome is a benign condition and does not cause any harm, due to elevated bilirubin levels, there is mild yellowing of eyes and skin and some individuals may even notice fatigue. On testing, blood tests may show slightly elevated levels of bilirubin. However, there is no treatment required for it and the prognosis is excellent.

What Not To Eat When You Have Gilbert Syndrome?

Although, there are no dietary restrictions in Gilbert Syndrome, it is crucial to eat foods that are healthy for liver, which do not put extra strain on it. The individuals with Gilbert Syndrome should avoid fasting or eating poor diet as bilirubin level rises in these situations. However, a person should avoid overeating, should eat their meals dividing them into three meals, and can take snacks around two to three times in between their meals. Certain foods should be avoided in Gilbert Syndrome to maintain a healthy liver and these are:


A person suffering from Gilbert Syndrome, at all costs, should avoid alcohol, which is a major toxin for liver. Some individuals suffering from this disease may be intolerant to alcohol. Alcohol increases the workload on liver leading to alcoholic fatty liver disease and also liver cirrhosis in the end causing scarring and death of liver cells. In addition, paracetamol should be avoided with alcohol that can precipitate liver damage.

Fatty Foods

The intake of fats should be limited, as too much fat increases the chance of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as well as obesity. The daily fat intake should not be more than 20 to 35% of total daily calorie. Unhealthy fats contain saturated fats that are hard to digest and these include processed, fried and fast foods. People should avoid fats that increase the workload of liver and gall bladder and these include full cream dairy products, margarines, processed vegetable oils, preserved meats, animal skins and fatty meats. They should also avoid foods that are not fresh.


They are good for health, but when consumed in excess they can cause liver to malfunction and also lead to other diseases such as gout. Proteins should be balanced with carbohydrate intake and vegetables. Meat, steaks, turkey and bacon should be avoided in Gilbert Syndrome as they are hard to digest. It is best to eat eggs and lean meat.

Soda and Refined Sugars

Carbonated drinks have a lot of sugar and caffeine. Excess sugar is converted into glucose and stored in liver as glycogen, but when excessive sugar is consumed it can damage the liver. Excess sugar also leads to greater risk for obesity. It is better to avoid simple and refined carbohydrates such as candies, cakes, donuts, cookies, pastries, pastas, white breads, desserts and processed foods and drinks. People should also avoid artificial chemicals and artificial sweeteners (especially aspartame), colorings, flavorings and preservatives.

Certain Medications

People with Gilbert Syndrome should avoid certain medications as these people have defective UGT enzyme, so they should avoid medications that inhibit this enzyme or those medications that are metabolized in liver and processed by the same pathway as bilirubin. These include paracetamol, which is partly metabolized by UGT; indinavir and atazanavir (used in the treatment of HIV); gemfibrozil (used for hypercholesterolemia) and irinotecan (used in treating advanced bowel cancer).

An individual with Gilbert Syndrome should follow a healthy diet rich in green vegetables and fruits.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 31, 2018

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