What Should Be The Diet And Nutrition For Chronic Liver Disease Patients?

The changing lifestyle and unhealthy habits of today’s times have led to the increase in various kinds of diseases, especially in the digestive system.

The changing lifestyle and unhealthy habits of today’s times have led to the increase in various kinds of diseases, especially in the digestive system. Any discomfort and distention within the digestive system is a result of improper functioning of the liver.

Without the liver, it becomes impossible for the body to have a properly working metabolism, balanced hormones, healthy circulation, healthy digestion and clean blood. The dysfunctioning of liver further causes harm to other parts of the body. Dealing with any chronic liver illness or disease is not only challenging but can also leave the patient emotionally and physically drained.

‘You Are What You Eat’ is true when it comes to dealing with a liver disease. Diet plays a decisive role in keeping the liver healthy and gives the patient a feeling of being behind the wheel while taking care of their health. Thus, it is essential to eat and drink right so that they help the liver carry out its function properly and repair the damage caused to it. If not given proper care, liver disease can progress to a stage where liver transplant becomes the only treatment option.

Diet Tips for Chronic Liver Disease Patients

Keep away from Alcohol

When suffering from a liver disease, consuming alcohol will make the condition even worse. Alcohol becomes the biggest enemy for someone suffering from a liver disease. According to healthcare specialists, no amount of alcohol is safe for anyone suffering from a liver disease, and the best is to keep away from alcohol altogether. After the condition of the liver is assessed, doctors strictly advise to stay away from alcohol.

Preventing weight loss with a diet rich in calories and proteins

Chronic liver disease is often associated with muscle and body fat loss. This may be difficult to detect because of fluid retention. For example, you may be losing muscle, but if you are retaining fluid you may stay the same weight. A high protein diet is important for people with chronic liver disease as the protein is used to maintain muscles and body tissues (including the liver) and to keep the body working normally. Historically, it was recommended that people with liver disease need to avoid protein-rich foods to help prevent a condition called hepatic encephalopathy. However, new research shows this is not the case.

Dried beans, eggs, nuts, soy, lean meat and dairy products like yoghurt, milk pudding, (fat free) kheer, khoa ladoos, cheese, ice cream, cream and milk are good protein & calorie sources.

Higher intakes of branched-chain amino acids as well as vegetable proteins have shown benefits in patients with cirrhosis, but more research is needed on both topics. The best sources of BCAAs are meat, chicken, fish, dairy products, and eggs. Plant Sources of BCAA include quinoa, beans, pumpkin seeds.

Low appetite/anorexia and liver Disease

Five – six small frequent meals can keep you away from nausea and help in stabilizing anorexia and will help you achieve your calories and proteins goals. Adding nutrition supplement powders (high in calories and proteins), protein bars, protein biscuits – recommended by a dietician in mid meals can help fulfill the calorie and protein deficits.

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Vitamins and Minerals

The changes that occur in chronic liver disease can lead to vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies. Problems such as excessive bleeding, osteoporosis, anaemia and night blindness can occur if vitamin and/or mineral levels are too low. Eating a variety of foods can help to avoid deficiencies. Zinc deficiency is associated with liver disease.  Meat and poultry beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products are good sources of zinc , hence include these in diet . However, your doctor may still recommend a vitamin and mineral supplement if required.

Vegetables and fruits are also brilliant source of many nutrients including Vitamin C, fibre, potassium, folic acid and beta-carotene. Some of these are great antioxidants that can also repair and fight cell damage. As vegetables and fruits are naturally low in calories, and high in fiber, just remember do not fill your stomach with too much of them, if you have low appetite, as it will give you early feeling of fullness and then you will not be able to eat food which is high in calories and proteins. Your dietician can help you making a balanced meal diet chart .

Fluids and Salt

As liver disease progresses, excess fluid can build up around your stomach (ascites) and in the feet and legs (edema). If this occurs it becomes very important to limit the amount of salt (sodium) you consume. Because salt acts like a sponge with fluid in your body, by reducing the amount of salt you eat you can limit the amount of fluid that stays in your body. If you have ascites, your doctor and dietitian will recommend you follow a low salt and a fluid diet.

Foods that are high in sodium or salt include Canned foods , processed food, pickles, namkeens, chutneys, papads, processed foods & meats, such as bacon, sausages and salami; cheeses; condiments; and most snack foods. As a rule of thumb, you should try to limit your sodium intake to less than 2,000 mg per day.

By limiting the amount of salt and fluid in your diet, you can decrease fluid retention and swelling.

As a versatile organ, the liver is susceptible to the effects of a highly processed diet, stress, and toxins, but antioxidant-boosting herbs, along with a diet balanced in calories high in protein low in salt can significantly improve the functioning of the liver. Moreover, it’s crucial to keep the body moving through exercise and activity, reduce stress and avoid harmful substances to allow your liver function to reach its optimal level. An unhealthy diet can cause more damage to the liver and lead to a stage that can only be fixed by a liver transplant. A proper diet can maintain the health of the liver while keeping it protected against any further harmful condition.

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Image via Pixabay

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