Cirrhosis Diet Tips for Eating Healthfully

Only your doctor can approve your undertaking any kind of new diet that might affect your health.  In fact, they may recommend you confer with a registered dietitian who can evaluate your nutritional needs in detail and fine tune your Cirrhosis diet as you go.

When years of damage have taken their toll on the liver, a buildup of scar tissue accumulates which restricts the flow of blood through the organ.  There are a host of issues which may crop up due to this condition including malnutrition and mental inacuity.

You see, when the liver is unable to do it’s job as well as normally, a person can eat lots of food and never be able to assimilate the nutrients from the meal.  Recall a time when you were hungry but unable to eat- did you feel good or did you feel not quite right?  Of course, a lack of nutrition, despite eating a full meal won’t let you function optimally both mentally and physically.

Cirrhosis Diet Considerations

Beyond the lack of nutrition, chemical compounds which should have been filtered by the liver may cause confusion once they reach your brain.  This is a condition known as hepatic encephalopathy and is not permanent, but certainly not desirable.

Beyond literally starving with a full belly, a compromised liver has additional ill effects.  For instance, when the blood pressure in the liver increases (known as Portal Hypertension after the Portal vein) the blood must be diverted into the blood stream.  The result is the formation of varices, similar to varicose veins, which are essentially overstuffed veins which can be painful at worse and uncomfortable at best.

Cirrhosis Diet Rationale

A buildup of fluid in the body can be another consequence of liver Cirrhosis, often accumulating in the lower Cirrhosis Dietextremities.  Swollen, fluid filled ankles and legs may give way to an abdomen which is also full of water, a condition known as Ascites.  Since salt contributes to the water retention issue with this disease, it’s highly recommended to cautiously regulate your sodium intake.

This isn’t overly difficult to do- you just need to be a label reader and keep tabs on how much salt is added to your meals, remaining cognizant of the fact that many processed foods on grocery store shelves are already packed with a high level of salt.

Zinc, Magnesium and Calcium deficiencies due to the lack of nutrients may cause cramping, weakness and vomiting.

What Now?

So what can be done about this?  The first trip should be to your doctor, who can get you started on a Cirrhosis diet which can then be refined.

This type of diet will allow your body to get a break from all the items which are hard on the liver in favor of food which allows the liver to function as normally as possible.

A diagnosis of liver Cirrhosis means your nutritional needs must be cautiously met and regulated.  More caloric yield and additional protein may be in order, although these must come from the right sources.

Cirrhosis Diet Timing

A compromised liver needs not only a break from the nutrients it is no longer able to properly process but also needs to pace itself.  What this means is that it’s advisable to space out your meals so the liver doesn’t have a large amount of food to process all at once.  People call this grazing and it’s really a good idea for just about anyone who wants to eat healthfully, regardless of hepatic condition.  Depending on your situation and ability to eat frequently enough, a highly nutritious supplement may be recommended (Ensure and similar).

Protein should come from lean sources like poultry, dairy and vegetables to make processing easier on your liver.  If you’re a fan of tofu, this is a great way to get some protein that’s easily processed.  The aforementioned Magnesium and Calcium deficiency can be addressed by obtaining protein from sources other than red meats.

Wrapping up

Beyond dietary considerations for planning your Cirrhosis diet, there are medications which your doctor may prescribe to help ease the stress on your liver.  These may include digestion facilitators as well as diuretics, or water pills to reduce the amount of fluid you retain.

It’s not difficult to plan meals that are not only nutritious but also mouth watering.  All that is required is a working knowledge of what you should eat, what you should avoid and how much your should eat to fulfill the requirements of your new Cirrhosis diet.


3 Responses to “Cirrhosis Diet Tips for Eating Healthfully”
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  1. Hal says:

    I have dealt with Hepatitis C & Cirrhosis for 16 years. I had a liver transplant 15 years ago.
    The AMA does not have all the answers.
    I would seek out a Naturopathic doctor if you want to know about diet & proper nutrition for liver health.

  2. Olivia Kong says:

    I was recently diagnosed with cirrhosis & have most of the foods u recommend. I eat lots of sweets & will cease, per your advice. Platelets are very low & most days I feel dizzy. I take a multi-vit daily. I do not drink any alcohol at all, & am worried how this has happened. My doc ordered a liver scan and liver profile. He said no diet can help & prescribed Ursodiel 300mg x 2 per day to begin after he gets the result of the enzymes. PLEASE HELP ME !!

    • Jim says:

      Olivia, so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. Be sure to default to what your doctor advises. Especially since the cause is unknown.
      Is there a history of the disease in your family? Have you been exposed to any sort of toxin?
      It’s prudent to get more than one doctors opinion if you’re so inclined. Diet can’t help everyone in every case since we’re all unique and a medical professional will have much more experience in guiding your progress.

      Please be sure to update us and let us know how you are and what your doctors have to say, we’ll be keeping your in our prayers.

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