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Diet For Liver Disease

Alternate Names

  • low protein diet
  • low sodium diet
  • Gallbladder and liver

Definition

A diet for liver disease provides the vitamins and minerals needed to stay healthy, while at the same time limiting nutrients that will cause further liver damage.

Information

A healthy liver is like a processing plant. Carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals all go to the liver where they are broken down and stored. Later, they are remade into whatever the body needs and carried through the bloodstream to wherever they will be used.
Even when the liver is damaged, these nutrients still come to the liver after they have been digested. But, once they arrive, the liver cannot process them and they build up. This build-up causes more liver damage.
A healthy diet for a person with liver disease would include:
  • a limited amount of protein. A damaged liver cannot process protein very well. This causes a build-up of ammonia in the bloodstream, which can become toxic.
  • more carbohydrate. Carbohydrate is the body's energy supply. A healthy liver makes glycogen from carbohydrate. The glycogen is then broken down when the body needs energy. A damaged liver cannot do this. Without glycogen, a consistent supply of carbohydrate is needed from the diet to make sure the body has enough energy.
  • a moderate amount of fat. Fat provides calories, essential fatty acids, and fat-soluble vitamins.
  • a limited amount of fluids and sodium. Liver damage can cause high blood pressure in the major vein of the liver. This can result in ascites, a fluid build-up in the abdominal cavity. Limiting fluids and sodium can help prevent this.
  • extra amounts of certain vitamins and minerals. A damaged liver has problems storing many vitamins and minerals.
People with liver disease should also seek the guidance from a physician and registered dietitian, for individualized medical nutrition therapy.

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