Alternative Names low protein diet, low sodium diet
Definition A diet for liver disease provides the vitamins and minerals needed to stay healthy. It also limits 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.
As a result, what a person with liver disease eats is very important. This diet needs to provide nutrients without causing further harm to the liver. This type of diet 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.
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 can't do this. Without glycogen, more carbohydrate is needed from the diet to make sure the body has enough energy.
a moderate amount of fat. Fat provides kilojoules, 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 dietician, for individualised medical nutrition therapy.
Author: Reviewer: eknowhow, Australia Medical Review Panel Editor: Dr John Hearne Last Updated: 12/09/2004 Contributors Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request
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