Diet in cirrhosis of the liver
Liver cirrhosis represents the end stage of many severe liver diseases. It can be caused by alcohol, viral diseases (especially hepatitis B and C) and also by some metabolic diseases. This is a remodeling of the liver tissue into connective tissue. This can then no longer fulfill the function of the liver and the typical symptoms such as skin changes, feeling of pressure in the right upper abdomen, later also jaundice, water retention in the abdomen (ascites) and a decrease in mental abilities.
Depending on the cause, a special diet may be useful to curb the progression of the disease. Because a complete regression of the cirrhosis is usually no longer possible.
These foods are allowed
As a general rule, people with cirrhosis of the liver should eat several small meals rather than a few large meals. The diet should be as balanced as possible, rich in vitamins and fiber. Depending on the type and degree of liver cirrhosis, additional recommendations must be observed. This will be discussed in more detail later. In principle, it is possible for people with cirrhosis of the liver to eat all foods that are well tolerated. The following foods are particularly recommended:
- All kinds of vegetables
- Legumes, such as peas and lentils, if they are well tolerated
- Fruit of all kinds, with the exception of unripe fruit, e.g. green apples and pears
- Milk and dairy products such as curd and cheese
- Whole grain products in the form of bread and rolls
- lean meat and fish in moderation
Find out all about the topic here: The therapy of liver cirrhosis.
These foods are prohibited
Depending on the cause of the disease, very different foods come into question. In general, however, special care should be taken not to consume alcohol. This also applies if the liver cirrhosis was not caused by alcohol. Most of the foods listed below are not completely banned, but should be avoided whenever possible:
- Alcohol of any kind (see also: Consequences of alcohol)
- Sweets that are high in sugar or fat
- fried fast food such as burgers, french fries, and the like
- streaky or very fatty meat
- very salty foods such as pickled fish, broth or cured products
- As little salt as possible in general, it is better to use spices such as pepper, paprika or herbs to taste
- Foods that bloat or stay in the stomach and intestines for a long time, e.g. Cabbage, fresh bread, or carbonated drinks
How do you eat healthily? Find out more here.
I should drink that much
In the early stages of liver cirrhosis, there is usually no reason to change the amount you drink. In any case, this should be discussed with the attending physician. Basically, alcohol of any kind should be avoided.
If the cirrhosis of the liver is already advanced, ascites can develop. It may then be necessary to restrict the amount of water you drink in order to reduce water retention and improve the patient's general well-being. Usually a fluid intake of one to one and a half liters per day is recommended. However, the exact amount you drink can vary from patient to patient and should always be coordinated with a doctor to suit the therapy concept.
Also read the article: Water in the stomach.
That's how many proteins I should eat
The amount of protein to be consumed daily also varies depending on the stage of liver cirrhosis. Basically, patients with liver cirrhosis have an increased need for protein. Protein-rich foods such as nuts and dairy products are therefore highly recommended.
However, if the disease is very advanced, there may be an increased amount of ammonia in the body. This can cause dysfunction and damage to the brain called hepatic encephalopathy. To prevent this, you should mainly consume proteins that consist of branched-chain amino acids. These include, for example, milk, soy products and legumes. In contrast, animal protein sources such as meat and eggs should be avoided at this stage.
Also read the article: The liver failure.
Refraining from alcohol in cirrhosis of the liver
Refraining from alcohol is very important in the diet of patients with cirrhosis of the liver. Alcohol is one of the most common causes of fatty liver formation. If alcohol continues to be consumed regularly, the fatty liver turns into cirrhosis of the liver. This conversion can then no longer be reversed.
However, patients in whom alcohol abuse is not the cause of cirrhosis of the liver also benefit from abstaining from alcohol. Otherwise, the alcohol only further damages the liver, which is already badly affected, and the cirrhosis of the liver progresses faster.
Vitamin substitution in cirrhosis of the liver
In general, a balanced diet is enough to meet the body's vitamin needs. However, patients with advanced disease often have the problem of poorly tolerating food. This creates an increasing aversion to food.
For this reason, patients with cirrhosis of the liver are often malnourished after a certain point. Then, in addition to increased calorie intake by means of special supplementary foods, the intake of vitamins may also be necessary. However, it is best for patients to discuss whether and to what extent this is necessary with their doctor.
Can cirrhosis of the liver be cured? Read more about this here.