Liver disease can affect the absorption of food and the production of proteins and vitamins. Therefore, your diet may influence your weight, appetite, and the amounts of vitamins in your body. DO NOT limit protein too much, because it can result in a lack of certain amino acids.
The changes you will need to make will depend on how well your liver is working. Talk to your provider about the kind of diet that is best for you so that you get the right amount of nutrition.
General recommendations for people with severe liver disease include:
Eat large amounts of carbohydrate foods. Carbohydrates should be the major source of calories in this diet.
Eat a moderate intake of fat, as prescribed by the provider. The increased carbohydrates and fat help prevent protein breakdown in the liver.
Have about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. This means that a 154-pound (70-kilogram) man should eat 70 grams of protein per day. This does not include the protein from starchy foods and vegetables. A person with a badly damaged liver may need to eat less protein. Talk to your provider about your protein needs.
Take vitamin supplements, especially B-complex vitamins.
Reduce the amount of salt you consume (typically less than 1500 milligrams per day) if you are retaining fluid.
Cooked oatmeal with milk and sugar
1 slice of whole-wheat toast
Coffee or tea
4 ounces of cooked lean fish, poultry, or meat
A starch item (such as potatoes)
A cooked vegetable
2 slices of whole-grain bread
1 tablespoon of jelly
Milk with graham crackers
4 ounces of cooked fish, poultry, or meat
Starch item (such as potatoes)
A cooked vegetable
2 whole-grain rolls
Fresh fruit or dessert
8 ounces of milk
Glass of milk or piece of fruit
Most of the time you do not have to avoid specific foods.
Talk to your provider if you have questions about your diet or symptoms.
DeLegge MH. Nutrition in gastrointestinal diseases. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 5.
Palmer M. General nutritional guidelines for liver disease, cirrhosis, and its complications. In: Mullin GE, Matarese LE, eds. Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease Nutrition Desk Reference. Boca Raton, Fl: CRC Press; 2012:chap 10.
Subodh K. Lal, MD, gastroenterologist at Gastrointestinal Specialists of Georgia, Austell, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.