The liver is often called the most hard-working organ in the body and there is a very good reason for this. Your liver plays a pivotal role in almost all metabolic processes in the body. From the day you are born, your liver is one of the most important organs right next to the brain, heart, and lungs. With that being said, liver diseases can make life significantly more difficult for everyone involved. For instance, when your liver becomes scarred, no matter what the cause of scarring is, it cannot function as it should. If the scarring is bad enough, it can easily be life-threatening. Thankfully, there are changes that you can make to your dietary habits to reduce the problems that cirrhosis causes.
Food & Nutrition Diet (Meal Plan) for Cirrhosis
#1 Recommended Breakfast Diet for Cirrhosis
The biggest thing you are going to want to do is avoid sodium. Unfortunately, sodium is found naturally in many foods and artificially added to many more. Finding food that has low salt can be tough at times. For breakfast, you are going to want to look at vegetables and fruits. Yogurt of any flavor is often a good idea. You can also consider adding some fruit to your yogurt to add some much-needed flavor to your breakfast. Another good idea is granola with dried fruit, nuts, and seeds. If you can find a breakfast cereal that has little or no salt, then this is also a good solution. Eggs, as long as they are not too heavily seasoned, are also perfectly fine for a breakfast meal.
#2 Recommended Lunch Diet for Cirrhosis
Salads are a wonderful lunch as long as you make sure that the contents of the salad are low in sodium. No pickles, canned/marinated vegetables, olives, cured meats, seasoned croutons, or salted seeds should be in your salad. You can add very small amounts of cheese and nuts to your salad if you enjoy having those. You can also have some salad dressings but the best way to add that to your salad is going to be to have it on the side, dip the fork into the dressing, and then take a bite of salad. This ensures that you aren’t getting the full sodium blast that’s in most salad dressings.
#3 Recommended Dinner Diet for Cirrhosis
You can still eat meats when you are on a sodium-restricted diet. You will generally want to make sure that the meat you choose can be broiled, baked, grilled, or roasted as these are the best ways to cook a low-sodium meal. Make sure that you do not bread the meats either as this will substantially increase the amount of salt. If you can, use fresh herbs, onions, and garlic rather than salt to season meats. Orange, lemon, lime, pineapple juice, and vinegar can all be used as a base for meats to add flavor rather than salt. If you are eating frozen dinners, keep the amount of sodium down to 600mg at the most. Otherwise, you can also consider adding dried beans and peas to your dinner for a tasty side dish.
#4 Recommended Snacks Diet for Cirrhosis
There are several snacks that you can choose that have a low sodium count. Sherbet, sorbet, Italian ice, and popsicles are all wonderful, healthy options that have a good flavor to them. Unsalted nuts are also good and often have the fatty acids your body needs to be even healthier. Fig bars and gingersnaps, while not the most common snack, are also some options. Hard candies are also wonderful sweet snacks for when you want to treat yourself. If you can find very low sodium chips or popcorn, then you can also eat those. You will still want to be very careful about how much sodium is actually in those snacks. Just remember that everything is better in moderation.
#5 Recommended Drinks for Cirrhosis
Most drinks don’t have a lot of sodium in them, meaning that you do not have to be wary of much when you are choosing what to drink during the day. Generally, sugar-heavy carbonated drinks are not always the best for any digestive problem, meaning that you should moderate sodas but you can still have them. Dairy is also something you will have to think about. If you are going to add some milk to your morning meals, then you will want to make sure that you are getting 1% or skim milk. You will also want to make sure that you are not drinking too much of that milk either. Studies indicate that having 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day can protect your liver from damage due to much alcohol intake.
#6 Recommended Herbs for Cirrhosis
Milk thistle, also called silymarin, is used as an alternative medicine for liver disease. It is one of the most commonly used and best studied herbs for this issue. You can get milk thistle in capsule, powder, and liquid extract form. Because the ingredient that you want to pay attention to is silymarin, you will want to make sure that whichever form of milk thistle you are taking has at least 70% silymarin. The suggested dosage of milk thistle is 420mg per day, although you should always talk to a doctor about whether or not it is good for you.
#7 Recommended Fruits for Cirrhosis
The best fruits for you are going to be the fresh ones from the produce section. Dried fruits are also acceptable. Sometimes canned fruits are okay as well. Low-sodium versions of tomato sauce are also acceptable as long as you are wary of the amount of sodium that the low-sodium version actually has. Frozen fruits are also a good idea as long as they do not have added sauces. Aside from making sure that you are not getting fruits with added sauces and sodium, generally all fruit is acceptable and even recommended for cirrhosis.
#8 Recommended Vitamin/s for Cirrhosis
Rather than focusing on a specific vitamin, you should instead focus on eating as much of a balanced diet as you can when you have cirrhosis. Because you will be cutting out a number of foods that have sodium in them, you will need to make sure that you are replenishing those vitamins somehow. Whether that is through vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables or through supplements is up to you. When your liver is not functioning at 100%, you need to make sure that you are not making other body parts compensate even more for vitamin deficiencies on top of trying to work without a good liver. Vitamin D deficiency is a well reported complication in patients with liver cirrhosis.
#9 Recommended Mineral/s for Cirrhosis
Similar to the vitamins, there is no specific vitamin that you should pay attention to when you have cirrhosis. Instead, you need to make sure that you are getting a well-balanced diet with all the minerals that you need. Making sure that your body has the resources it needs to function as it should without a liver that is working at its potential is one of the best things that you can do for your body. You can either make sure that the foods you are eating have the minerals you need or you can look for supplements to provide those minerals for you. Besides poor intake and decreased absorption, patients with cirrhosis often lose a lot of zinc in their urine. This makes supplementing with zinc often helpful in many types of cirrhosis.
#10 Discouraged Foods for Cirrhosis
Simply put, foods with high sodium counts are discouraged. According to the American Heart Association, there are specific foods that you should avoid or limit because of this. These are rolls, bagels, flour tortillas and wraps, cold cuts and cured meats, pizzas, poultry, soup, and sandwiches. In addition to this, you need to make sure that you remove table salt from your dining table so you aren’t tempted to season your own food. Of course, with any liver disease, you need to remove any alcohol from your diet as this will only make matters worse.
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