Liver cirrhosis is a disease that happens when your healthy liver cells become damaged and scarred.
Damage and scarring limit your liver from working efficiently and can cause many health problems.
Eating a proper diet is a vital part of both the prevention and control of liver cirrhosis.
How do I know so much about liver cirrhosis? Because almost 10 years ago, due to an improper diet and excessive alcohol abuse, I almost died from years of abuse to my liver.
Since I had a second chance at life, I have been able to turn my life around with a proper diet and a healthy regimen. I want to share with anyone how to be successful in maintaining a healthy liver that can still be saved after liver damage.
This article explains what to eat and avoid with liver cirrhosis and provides a sample liver cirrhosis diet menu.
Note: Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog, website, or in any linked materials.
Liver Cirrhosis Diet Plan - Foods To Eat, Avoid, and More
Causes and risk factors of Liver Disease
Liver cirrhosis is a common liver disease, affecting 4.5 million Americans.
This medical condition progresses gradually over time from several factors that can harm your liver.
These factors can include:
- excessive alcohol use
- liver infections (hepatitis B and hepatitis C)
- nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
According to the Mayo Clinic “Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol. As the name implies, the main characteristic of NAFLD is too much fat stored in liver cells.
NAFLD is increasingly common around the world, especially in Western nations. In the United States, it is the most common form of chronic liver disease, affecting about one-quarter of the population.
Some individuals with NAFLD can develop nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), an aggressive form of fatty liver disease, which is marked by liver inflammation and may progress to advanced scarring (cirrhosis) and liver failure. This damage is similar to the damage caused by heavy alcohol use.”
Related Article: 15 Exciting Fitness Gadgets To Help Motivate You
Symptoms of Liver Damage
The scarring of your liver that leads to cirrhosis, limits your liver from working properly.
From this, you may experience these symptoms:
- loss of appetite
- unintentional weight loss
- yellowing of the skin and eye whites
- stomach distension
- itchy skin
The problem with these symptoms is they usually don’t surface until your liver has already endured severe damage.
For me, I was experiencing these symptoms for months and ignored them until it was too late. I am still grateful to this day things turned around. I am not 100%, and I might not ever be 100%. Pay attention to the warning signs!
Diagnosis and treatment
The first thing I need you to do right now is book an appointment with your doctor! You can’t ignore your body, because if you do, it might be too late. I don’t want to frighten you, but I neglected my body for years, and I am paying for it now.
Now, to diagnose liver cirrhosis, your doctor will likely review your health history and any symptoms that you have been experiencing. Tell the truth with your doctor, they are there to help. If you have a nagging pain on the right side of your body, don’t ignore it and tell them.
Based on your symptoms, your doctor may also conduct further tests to rule out other conditions that exhibit similar symptoms.
Tests can include:
- blood tests to check your liver and kidney function
- genetic testing for an inherited disease, if suspected
- abdominal CT scan or ultrasound to view your liver
- a liver biopsy to examine your liver tissue
What these tests will do is help your doctor recognize any complications from liver cirrhosis that require treatment.
Liver cirrhosis complications include:
- Esophageal varices. This is a condition I am dealing with daily for the past 10 years. Esophageal varices are swollen veins in the lining of your esophagus, the tube that connects your throat and mouth.
- Hepatic (liver) encephalopathy. A buildup of toxins in your blood, which can lead to poor brain function.
- Hepatocellular carcinoma. The most common type of liver cancer.
In most cases, you usually cannot reverse liver cirrhosis, but you can manage your symptoms and reduce the risk of health complications with a proper diet and exercise routine.
Related Article: The Perfect Home Gym – 20+ Best Fitness Equipment Ideas
Liver cirrhosis diet
If you are suffering from liver cirrhosis, you will need to look at your current diet and understand that there are certain foods and drinks to avoid that can cause further liver damage.
Next, you will need to understand the foods that are necessary to add to your diet that can help decrease inflammation and help you manage your symptoms.
Keep in mind, I haven’t found a diet that has been shown to reverse liver cirrhosis, but by changing your diet, you can help optimize your liver function to prevent or reduce your risk of correlated complications and improve your quality of life.
Foods to avoid
If you are looking for foods to avoid in your diet that can cause liver inflammation and possibly worsen conditions, the following should be taken out of your diet today.
Added sugar foods
A lot of the foods we eat today included added sugar that our bodies don’t need. Added sugar is added during the manufacturing process of foods that are normally processed in an assembly line type of factory.
These foods shouldn’t be confused with foods that have naturally occurring sugars in fruit and milk.
Examples of foods and drinks with added sugar:
- regular soft drink
- fruit drinks
- dairy desserts
- many kinds of breakfast cereals
- condiments like ketchup and barbecue sauce
- specialty coffee drinks
Eating and drinking items with added sugars have been linked with liver inflammation and an ailment called fatty liver, which can progress to liver cirrhosis.
Related Article: 20+ Best Travel Products To Help You Stay Healthy While Traveling
Liver cirrhosis can cause high blood pressure in the portal vein, which carries blood from your stomach, pancreas, and other digestive organs to your liver.
When this occurs, protein-containing fluid leaks from your liver and intestine and accumulates within your abdomen, causing enlargement. This condition is called ascites.
Eating foods with less sodium can help lower the pressure in your portal vein and decrease fluid accumulation in your abdomen, helping to relieve the uncomfortable feeling of ascites.
High-sodium foods to avoid are:
- canned soups – except for low-sodium ones
- seasoned and packaged rice and pasta mixes
- frozen meals that contain more than 600 mg of sodium
- processed meats such as bacon, sausage, and luncheon meats, and hot dogs
- quick bread such as biscuits and cornbread
- American, parmesan, Swiss, and cottage cheese
- condiments such as salt, ketchup, soy sauce, salsa, pickles, and salad dressings
If you are worried about bland-tasting food because of limiting sodium, you can include flavors like lemon juice, dry or fresh herbs, and sodium-free seasonings.
Fried foods and processed meats
Fried foods and processed meats tend to produce inflammation and harmful free radicals in your body.
These types of foods were part of my diet for years being an outside sales rep always on the road and never having time to cook a proper meal.
If you have a body that functions properly, you can eat these types of foods in moderation with a healthy diet routine, and your body can regulate this inflammation and offset the free radicals.
However, with a damaged liver, your body can’t combat inflammation like it could if it was healthy.
The key to a healthy diet is to restrict or avoid fried foods and processed meats to lessen inflammation and limit your liver damage further.
These types of foods include:
- Fried foods: fried fish, french fries, onion rings, chicken strips, cheese curds, etc.
- Processed meats: sausages, hot dogs, salami, bacon, canned meat, smoked meat, etc.
One of the major causes of liver cirrhosis is excessive alcohol in your diet. Alcohol-related liver disease is caused by excessive consumption of alcohol.
I want to stress this point, the damage from alcohol-related cirrhosis is not reversible and can cause fatal liver failure. I almost died from alcohol-related cirrhosis and my aunt died from alcohol-related cirrhosis.
Therefore, avoid all alcohol to reduce further damage to your liver and other organs.
Related Article: 10+ Best Ways To Lose Weight Without Even Trying Hard
Foods to eat
Many people that suffer from liver cirrhosis tend to become malnourished and lose muscle mass and strength.
That’s why it is important to add plenty of protein to your diet to boost your health and reduce the loss of muscle.
Excellent sources of protein include:
- Poultry and eggs: chicken, turkey, duck, pheasant, chicken eggs
- Meat: Beef, lamb, turkey
- Dairy: milk, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt
- Protein supplements: whey and casein protein powder, branched-chain amino acid (BCAAs) supplements
- Beans, nuts, and seeds: garbanzo beans, soybeans, peas, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
- Fatty fish: salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, trout
Including fatty fish in your diet helps with supplementing essential omega-3 fatty acids that can decrease liver inflammation and triglyceride levels, a type of fat in the blood, that when elevated, can increase your risk for heart disease.
Fish oil supplements have also been shown to lower triglyceride levels and decrease liver inflammation.
Eating a protein-rich snack or protein supplement before bed can help support liver function and reduce muscle wasting that often occurs with liver cirrhosis.
Fruit and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals, as well as beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols.
Consuming a diet rich in polyphenols can help lower inflammation and neutralize free radicals that damage your body’s cells.
Fruits and vegetables with the highest polyphenol content include:
- Fruits: black elderberry, plums, cherries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, apples, peaches, etc.
- Vegetables: artichoke, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, red lettuce, chicory, olives, onions, etc.
Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber and anti-inflammatory nutrients like zinc, selenium, and other antioxidants.
In one study, people with fatty liver disease who consumed mostly whole grains for 12 weeks experienced a decrease in liver inflammation and blood pressure compared with those who didn’t.
Add these whole grains to your diet:
- brown rice
- whole-grain bread and pasta
When I was diagnosed with liver damage, I was worried that I was going to have to get rid of coffee forever out of my diet. I don’t know why I thought this, because coffee is actually good for your liver.
Coffee is a significant source of antioxidants, plus coffee may have protective effects against liver cirrhosis and cancer.
The caffeine in coffee may also be responsible for some of these beneficial effects on the liver.
Several observational studies have demonstrated that consuming 2–4 cups (480–960 mL) of coffee per day is associated with decreased liver scarring and inflammation.
Sample One-day Liver Cirrhosis Diet
This is a sample of what my diet looks like. It’s low in sodium and protein and anti-inflammatory foods.
- 1 cup (80 grams) old fashioned oats made with milk
- 1 cup (140 grams) blueberries for oatmeal topping
- two whole eggs scrambled
- 3 cups (84 grams) of spinach, sautéed
- Tuna patties (click here for recipe)
- 8-12 spears of asparagus, grilled seasoned with olive oil and salt-free garlic pepper
- 1 cup (227 grams) of Greek yogurt
- Chicken piccata (click here for recipe)
- 2 ounces (56 grams) whole-wheat spaghetti
- protein powder — which you can buy online — mixed with milk
- 1 ounce (28 grams) of unsalted almonds
To reduce your risk of cirrhosis you need to take these steps to care for your liver:
- Do not drink alcohol if you have cirrhosis. If you have liver disease, you should avoid alcohol.
- Eat a healthy diet. Choose a plant-based diet that’s full of fruits and vegetables. Select whole grains and lean sources of protein. Reduce the amount of fatty and fried foods you eat.
- Maintain a healthy weight. An excess amount of body fat can damage your liver. Talk to your doctor about a weight-loss plan if you are obese or overweight.
While you can’t reverse liver cirrhosis, diet can help optimize your liver function to prevent or reduce your risk of associated complications, as well as improve your quality of life.
If you liked this article please help me share it via, a tweet, stumble, pin, or Facebook share would be much appreciated!
**peekatthis.com is committed to providing information on natural and alternative health, but is not written by health care professionals. All material provided at peekatthis.com is for informational purposes only, and is not to be taken as medical advice or recommendation. Any health concern or condition should be addressed by a doctor or other appropriate health care professional.**