The liver is a powerhouse organ that performs more than 500 bodily processes and essential tasks. From filtering the blood, producing proteins, cholesterol and bile to storing vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. It also breaks down toxins such as alcohol, medications and by-products of metabolism. Maintaining the liver in good condition is vital for keeping up good health status and well-being.
Cirrhosis is a health condition that occurs when the healthy tissue in the liver gets scarred and hardened over a period of years leading to organ damage. It is not a curable disease, but it can be treated by a healthy diet that averts further damage and complications. Alcohol abuse, hepatitis and fatty liver are the main causative factors of cirrhosis. When the liver is damaged due to cirrhosis it will not able to efficiently perform one of its key functions, which is assisting the body get nutrition from food consumed.
Cirrhosis diet can help the patient provide proper nutrition, lessen the work liver needs to do, avert complications and prevent further damage. Evidence has disclosed that the patient’s with liver disease who are malnourished are more likely to experience complications from cirrhosis, where proper dietary management is considered as a key factor in maintaining liver health.
Read this article to get an overview about cirrhosis diet and management.
Nutritional Guidelines Of Cirrhosis:
Cirrhosis diet regimen need to be tailored based on the overall health status and individual needs, however, there are some basic dietary guidelines that help the patient recover well that includes:
Alcohol is considered unsafe for any person with cirrhosis, as it is the root cause of severe liver damage - even leading to liver failure. Consuming alcohol can lead to malnutrition and other health issues.
The body process fats using bile, a yellow-green fluid that is made and produced in the liver. When the liver is damaged, the supply of bile is hindered leading to digestive issues. A liver that isn’t functioning well has a tough time to digest high-fat food and meal. However, a healthy source of fatty acids can be included in moderate amounts.
Avoiding Raw Or Undercooked Meat/Seafood
Cirrhosis patients have impaired immune response, where bacteria and viruses that raw foods contain may lead to potentially severe infection.
Calorie Dense Foods
In order to lower the risk of malnourishment, the patient may need to add more of calorie-dense foods to meet the increasing demands of energy and recuperate well.Whole grain cereals, fruits and vegetables are some of the preferred sources.
High Protein Foods
Protein is a vital part of well-balanced and nutritious diet regimen and key to prevent muscle wasting. However, for a patient with cirrhosis protein needs has to be met from plant sources such as pulses, lentils, soy and nuts, instead of animal based-food, as it is rich source of saturated fat.
Reduce Salt Intake
Patients with liver disease, tend to hold body fluid (sodium) mainly in the stomach, which makes it important to lower salt intake in the diet. Lowering salt in the diet by opting other salt alternatives such as spices, herbs or lemon is advisable. Furthermore, having fresh and natural foods over processed and fast foods are greatly recommended as these are laden with high sodium content.
Fruits And Vegetables
Prefer fresh produce, as canned varieties have high sodium and sugar. Add fruit to cereals, porridges for added nutrients, fiber and natural sweetness. Apples, guava, papaya to mention a few serve as a healthy and satisfying snack.
Low fat milk and milk products, small amounts of low-sodium hard cheese and fortified dairy –free substitute like almond or soy milk are the best options over full-fat dairy products that are hard to digest.
Foods To Avoid With Cirrhosis
Some of the foods to avoid to reduce the excess fat deposit and toxin accumulation includes:
Alcohol and Alcoholic beverages
Deep fried foods, fast and junk foods, frozen foods etc.,
Foods rich in preservatives such as sauces, pickles, jams, jelly, purees, packed juices, canned fruits and vegetables.
Red and organ meat.
Simple and refined cereals, sweet and pastries