11 Diet Tips for Liver Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is a severe liver condition that affects millions of people around the world. If you have been diagnosed with liver cirrhosis, you already know that it’s almost impossible to cure or reverse the condition.
The good news is that you can manage liver cirrhosis through some much-needed and must-follow diet tips. Let’s get through everything you need to know about what to eat and avoid. 

What is Liver Cirrhosis? 
Liver cirrhosis is where your liver becomes scarred and damaged over time. It usually happens when the scar tissue gradually replaces your liver’s healthy cells. 
The liver, an organ the size of a football, does a crucial job in the body. It filters toxins from the blood, makes enzymes that help digest the food, stores sugar and nutrients, and fights infections. 
When your liver gets damaged, it repairs itself and forms tough scar tissues. When too much scar tissue accumulates, the liver cannot work how it should. 
Most of the time, the doctors aren’t able to fix the damage to the liver. However, if you catch liver damage early, some treatments can keep the disease in check. 
What are the Causes of Liver Cirrhosis? 
Several factors can contribute to the development of liver cirrhosis:

Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Consuming large amounts of alcohol over a prolonged period can damage the liver.
Viral Infections: Chronic infections with hepatitis B or C viruses can lead to cirrhosis.
Fatty Liver Disease: Accumulation of fat in the liver, often associated with obesity or diabetes, can contribute to cirrhosis.
Genetic Conditions: Some individuals may have inherited conditions that make them more prone to liver damage.
Medication-Induced Liver Injury: Certain medications, especially when taken in excess, can harm the liver.

Doctor Recommendation: Dr. Abdul Rafay is one of the best dietitians in Lahore, with expert experience in curating diet plans for people with liver complications.
What are the Symptoms of Liver Cirrhosis?
People with liver cirrhosis may experience a range of symptoms, including:

Fatigue: Feeling excessively tired or weak.
Unintended Weight Loss: Losing weight without trying.
Swelling: Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen or legs.
Bruising and Bleeding: Easy bruising and bleeding due to a decrease in blood clotting factors.
Confusion: Cognitive issues and memory problems.

Liver Cirrhosis Diet Tips – What to Eat and Avoid? 
When it comes to liver diseases, you should pay full attention to what you eat. Food is the foremost thing to keep an eye on. 
Let’s go through a list of liver cirrhosis diet tips that you must adhere to: 
Eat Little and Often 
People with cirrhosis frequently practice “little and often” eating, sometimes known as grazing. 
Your body won’t start converting the muscle proteins into energy if you eat more frequently. This approach eases the workload on the liver, making it easier to process and digest food.
Aim to eat something every two to three hours instead of three main meals, and have a snack before bed. 
Your meal should have a lot of starchy carbohydrates, like shortbread, cereal, porridge, or rice pudding. 
Eat More Calories and Protein
When cirrhosis progresses, your liver’s capacity to store glycogen to supply your body’s energy needs is compromised.
Although your liver tries to compensate, you frequently need a diet higher in protein and energy.
You can eat more of the following foods to boost your intake of protein:

Pulses and beans like kidney beans, baked beans, or lentils
Nuts like walnuts and almonds
Cheese, eggs, and other dairy items
Fish like mackerel, sardines, canned or fresh tuna, cod, and salmon
Lean cuts of beef, hog, and lamb, as well as poultry and turkey

Cut Down Sodium
Excess sodium can lead to fluid retention, exacerbating complications associated with liver cirrhosis, such as ascites. Reducing sodium intake helps manage fluid balance.
Suggestions for cutting back on salt intake:

Do not salt your meals at the table. If necessary, add a small quantity while cooking.
Steer clear of highly salted foods like sardines, anchovies, Bovril, Marmite, sausages, frankfurters, salami, and other cold cuts.
Steer clear of smoked fish.
Steer clear of fish cans that contain brine, such as pilchards, tuna, and salmon. Seek for goods that are water- or oil-tinned.
Any food having more than 1.5 grams of salt per 100 grams, or 0.6 grams of sodium, is excessive in salt. Be sure to read the labels. 
Read the labels carefully because some bottled waters contain high levels of salt.

If you want to add flavor to your food, you can try herbs, spices, vinegar, and powdered pepper. As an alternative, consider:

A pinch of lemon 
Tossed salad and veggies with vinegar and olive oil
Mash potatoes with mustard powder

Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess weight can strain the liver and contribute to the progression of cirrhosis. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is vital for overall liver health.
Adopt a balanced diet with portion control. Include a variety of nutrient-dense foods and engage in regular physical activity to support weight management.
Don’t Drink Alcohol
Alcohol can further damage the liver, so complete abstinence is crucial for managing cirrhosis.
Avoid all alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine, and spirits.
Eat Foods with Fiber
Fiber aids digestion and helps prevent constipation, a common issue in liver cirrhosis. It also promotes a healthy gut environment.
Include these fiber-rich foods in your diet:

Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, oats)
Fruits (apples, berries, pears)
Vegetables (broccoli, carrots, spinach)
Legumes (beans, lentils) 

Drink Lots of Water
Staying hydrated is essential for overall health and helps the liver function more efficiently.
Drink at least eight glasses of water daily. Adjust based on individual needs and activity levels.
Use Kernel Oil in Your Cooking
Opt for healthier cooking oils like olive, sunflower, or canola oil. These oils provide essential fatty acids without overloading the liver.
Use these oils for cooking and salad dressings in moderation to meet your dietary fat needs.
Avoid Deep-Fried Foods
Deep-fried foods can be hard on the liver and contribute to unhealthy weight gain. Choosing healthier cooking methods is crucial.
Opt for baking, grilling, steaming, or sautéing instead of deep-frying. Choose preparation methods that use less oil.
Include Salads With Your Meals
Salads with fresh vegetables provide essential nutrients without burdening the liver. They contribute to overall health and well-being.
Prepare salads with a variety of colorful vegetables. Add lean proteins and olive oil-based dressings for a nutritious and liver-friendly option.
Eat Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, supporting liver health and overall immunity.
Eat fruits like oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and limes. Enjoy them as snacks, or add them to salads for a refreshing boost.
When to Visit a Gastroenterologist? 
If you have liver cirrhosis, and you experience symptoms like fatigue or abdominal pain, have abnormal liver function tests, or face complications such as ascites or variceal bleeding, it’s time to visit a gastroenterologist. 
You can consult one of the best gastroenterologists near you using Healthwire’s platform. An appointment with a doctor of your choice is just one click away.