The liver is the second largest organ in the body, after the skin. It is an essential organ and our body cannot survive without it. The liver has many important functions including preventing infections, removing bacteria and toxins from the blood, digesting and processing food, making proteins that help the blood clot and storing vitamins, minerals, fats and sugars for the body to use. 

Liver cirrhosis refers to scarring of the liver. Scarring of the liver is a concern as it causes healthy liver cells to die and be replaced by stiff scar tissue. This process happens slowly, is often irreversible and may lead to the whole liver hardening, shrinking and becoming scarred. There are many causes of liver cirrhosis. The most common causes are chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections as well as long term heavy alcohol consumption but it may also be caused by fat build-up in the liver. It is commonly seen in people who are overweight or who have diabetes.

(Read more: BMI)

  1. Liver cirrhosis diet
  2. Reduce salt intake to reduce fluid retention
  3. Watch your fat intake
  4. What more should you avoid
  5. Liver Cirrhosis Diet Plan
  6. Doctors for Liver Cirrhosis Diet and Diet Plan

With liver cirrhosis, it is common to experience symptoms such as a loss of appetite, nausea, reduced energy levels or fluid retention in the legs (edema) or abdomen. These symptoms often make it difficult to eat as much food (particularly protein) as your body needs. A poor diet, as well as poor liver function, can cause malnutrition, weak bones and muscle wasting (particularly in your arms and around your shoulders, chest and back). Good nutrition is very important to support your liver’s function when you have liver cirrhosis since the condition can be managed with the right diet and medications. Here we will discuss such a diet in more detail:

(Read more: How to stop nausea and vomiting)

High protein diet for liver cirrhosis

Muscle loss and protein deficiency are very common in this situation. If you have been advised (as per your report) by your nutritionist to follow a high protein diet, foods that you should eat more of include chicken, eggs, milk, curd/yogurt, cheese, nuts and seeds, lentils, legumes and soybean products. 

Fruits for liver cirrhosis

With this disease, your body needs a good amount of antioxidants and micronutrients to make yourself strong. You can add fresh fruits such as apple, papaya, oranges, sweet lime, sapota, muskmelon and watermelon into your daily diet. It is more beneficial to have these fruits directly instead of having them as juice. 

Vegetables for liver cirrhosis

Patients with cirrhosis can be low in a few vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, folic acid, zinc, calcium, etc. Vegetables can be a good source of these nutrients. You can add all the colourful vegetables in your regular diet such as carrots, beetroot, pumpkin, mushroom, broccoli, fenugreek leaves, spinach, amaranth, lady finger, etc.

Foods to maintain healthy bones

People with liver cirrhosis have a tendency to experience thinning of the bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis). If bone thinning develops, you may have a higher chance of having fractured bones. A healthy diet (with calcium-rich foods) and vitamin D supplements may be recommended to prevent this from happening. If you want to fulfil these nutritional requirements through your diet, try to add dairy products, finger millet, egg, orange and cabbage for calcium. For vitamin D, introduce cod liver oil, fatty fish and mushrooms in your regular diet. 

It is important for you to get a bone density test (DEXA scan) every two years so you can monitor for thinning of the bones and prevent yourself from a serious health problem. 

(Read more: Vitamin D rich foods)

The buildup of fluid in the legs and abdomen is not the result of too much water intake but rather the body’s ability to retain too much sodium (salt). For this reason, it is important to cut down on your salt intake, not water intake. Avoid table salt and foods which are high in sodium such as pickle, papad, processed food (breakfast cereals, cheese, tinned fruits and vegetables, bakery items, processed foods product (bacon, sausage, ham, salami, ready to eat meals, jam, jelly, cakes and biscuits) and junk food. You can replace these food options with home-cooked and fresh foods. 

(Read more: Balanced diet)

A high-fat diet is known to worsen cirrhosis by causing fatty liver diseases which is another determinant of cirrhosis. So try to cut fatty food. Avoid foods that are high in fat such as meat and meat products such as beef, pork, mutton, butter, lard, margarine, cheese, butter, samosas, kachori, french fries, burger, pizza, etc. For cooking purposes, try to use plant-based oils such as canola, olive oilmustard oil and sesame oil instead.

(Read more: Healthy recipes)

Apart from the above, alcohol intake is known to worsen liver damage so it is best to avoid alcohol and alcoholic beverages. Fast food and other foods that are rich in preservatives have hidden sodium. Avoid foods such as sauces, pickles, jams, jelly, purees, packed juices and canned fruits and vegetables.

 

Following is a sample of what your diet should look like: 

  • Early morning: Warm water with lemon juice (1 glass) 
  • Breakfast: Wheat porridge in low-fat milk (1 bowl) + papaya ( 1 bowl)
  • Mid Meal: Buttermilk (1 glass) / Any seasonal fruit (150 grams)
  • Lunch: Chapati (2)/ Rice (1 bowl) + Toor Dal (1 bowl) + Aloo lauki (1 bowl) + Green salad (1 medium plate)
  • Evening tea: Turmeric tea (1 cup) + almonds (5)
  • Dinner: Vegetable Khichdi (Rice and dal) + Curd (1 bowl)
  • Bedtime: Low-fat milk (1 glass)
Dt. Rajni Sharma

Dt. Rajni Sharma

Dietician
6 Years of Experience

Dt. Ayushi Shah

Dt. Ayushi Shah

Dietician
2 Years of Experience

Dr. Yogita Johar

Dr. Yogita Johar

Dietician
1 Years of Experience

Dt. Miksha Arora

Dt. Miksha Arora

Dietician
2 Years of Experience

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References

  1. Moss Olivia. Nutrition Priorities: Diet Recommendations in Liver Cirrhosis. Clin Liver Dis (Hoboken). 2019 Oct; 14(4): 146–148. PMID: 31709043.
  2. McClain Craig J. Nutrition in Patients With Cirrhosis. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2016 Aug; 12(8): 507–510. PMID: 27917086.
  3. Yao Chu Kion, Fung James, Chu Natural Hoi Sing, Tan Victoria Ping Yi. Dietary Interventions in Liver Cirrhosis. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2018 Sep;52(8):663-673. PMID: 29912757.
  4. Eghtesad Sareh, Poustchi Hossein, Malekzadeh Reza. Malnutrition in Liver Cirrhosis:The Influence of Protein and Sodium. Middle East J Dig Dis. 2013 Apr; 5(2): 65–75. PMID: 24829672.
  5. Guan Yong-Song, He Qing. Plants Consumption and Liver Health. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015; 2015: 824185. PMID: 26221179.
  6. Shergill Ravi, Syed Wajahat, Rizvi Syed Ali, Singh Ikjot. Nutritional support in chronic liver disease and cirrhotics. World J Hepatol. 2018 Oct 27; 10(10): 685–694. PMID: 30386461.
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