Diet For Liver Diseases

The liver is a very important organ of our body in which many metabolic processes occur. Toxins and bacteria absorbed from the intestine may directly reach the liver and cause injury. Dietary deficiencies may make the organ susceptible to the injurious effects of infections and toxins.

Methionine is an amino acid that prevents liver damage caused by any dietary deficiency. Since milk and animal proteins are rich in methionine, the consumption of milk or animal foods prevents damage of the liver cells.

Glycogen also protects the liver cells against damage. Carbohydrates are useful not only for meeting energy requirements but also for reducing the endogenous breakdown of proteins by their ‘protein sparing effect.

Diet for Liver Diseases

In general, vitamins of the B group have a beneficial effect on the liver.

Alcohol supplies calories but it cannot be stored in the liver as glycogen. When alcohol is taken, there is a proportionate increase in the need for protein and vitamins of the B group. Further, the gastritis produced by alcohol may reduce the appetite and thereby the intake of proteins. A chronic alcoholic is often deficient in proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins, which makes his liver highly vulnerable to any infection or toxin.

Jaundice

Jaundice is the yellow discolouration of the skin with bile pigments, due to rise in the serum bilirubin. Jaundice may be produced due to excessive breakdown of red blood cells or due to the damage of the cells either by viral infection or by toxic drugs. The commonest cause of jaundice is viral hepatitis.

Viral jaundice is usually a self-limiting disease. Most patients recover with only rest, diet and vitamins. Viral hepatitis tends to run a more severe course in undernourished patients than in the well nourished.

Diet

In severe jaundice (serum bilirubin over 15 mg) a moderate intake of protein is required, through cereals like porridge, rice, biscuits, bread, rusks and ahapatis. When the intensity of jaundice is less, or on recovery from jaundice, a high-protein diet containing dals, beans, eggs, fish and meat is recommended.

There is no evidence that when the usual amount of protein is taken, the average consumption of fat is harmful. In severe jaundice fat may be avoided. In moderate to mild jaundice about 50-60 gm of fat may be given daily (to be used in cooking-fried foods are not permitted). Pickles, dried fruits and nuts should be avoided in all cases of jaundice.

Carbohydrates are necessary to provide energy and reduce the endogenous breakdown of proteins to a minimum. Fruits, fruit juice, vegetables and vegetable juices, soups, sugar, gur, and honey should be given liberally, as they not only provide carbohydrates but also supply adequate minerals and vitamins.