Cirrhosis is a condition that results in development of fibrosis in liver, resulting in decrease in cellular mass of liver, and thus a decrease in function of liver. Various causes of cirrhosis are alcohol, chronic viral hepatitis (hepatitis B and hepatitis C), autoimmune hepatitis, NASH, biliary cirrhosis, and various inherited metabolic liver disorders.
Cirrhotic liver has reduced ability to store and release glycogen. Glycogen is used to provide energy when we need it. So, in the absence of glycogen, our body will use its muscle tissue to provide energy. This can lead to muscle wasting and weakness.
Diet in Cirrhotic Patients
Cirrhotic patients should have a well balanced diet to ensure enough intake of carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins , and minerals. It should be noted that excess intake of proteins and fats can be harmful for a cirrhotic patient.
Liver patients need to include more carbohydrates and starchy foods such as potatoes , peas, corn, cereal, and breads in their diet. Avoid sweets and fruit juices. Instead, eat fruits that contain several minerals and vitamins along with roughage.
Typical diet in cirrhotic patients is low in fats and proteins. Healthier sources of protein are : –
lean cuts of meat, poultry or fish, low fat dietary products like low fat yoghurt and skimmed milk,egg white, kidney beans.
Foods to Avoid
Cirrhotic patients need to take special care of their diet. Some of the foods which are discouraged or are to be taken in limited amount are given below:
Alcohol – Alcohol should be stopped completely. It is a poison for the liver. Alcohol should be completely avoided in patients of cirrhosis due to any cause.
Sodium – Sodium is responsible for causing fluid retention in the body. Some of the complications of cirrhosis like ascites (fluid in the abdominal cavity), swelling in the legs and feet can occur with increased salt intake in food. Patients should avoid processed and deli meat, vegetable juices, canned vegetables, processed and frozen food, packaged snacks and soup.
Caffeinated beverages – Caffeine is not healthy for cirrhotic patients.
High protein diet – High protein diet should also be avoided. High protein diet in a cirrhotic patient can lead to hepatic encephalopathy (a condition in which a liver patient becomes disoriented and if untreated, comatose). Gut-derived neurotoxins that are not removed by the diseased liver get to the brain and cause the symptoms that we know as hepatic encephalopathy.