If you suffer from liver disease, there are several things you must do in order to assist your condition. One of the main things that you can do to help improve your overall liver health is to follow a special diet. Foods that put excess stress on the liver should be avoided, while some foods that encourage liver health should be increased in your diet. Many of these foods will encourage health throughout your body as well.
How Does Your Liver Work and Foods That Help the Liver
The liver is used to break down substances in your body so that your body can absorb the nutrients. The liver will also help to filter out toxins that can cause harm to your body. When you have a disease like hepatitis and cirrhosis, your body may not absorb nutrient the same way they did previously. You will need to adjust your diet to help prevent putting added stress on the liver while ensuring that you still get the nutrients that the rest of your body needs. Because a healthy liver diet also promotes overall body health, many dieticians and nutritionists will recommend these steps to their patients who are trying to lose weight or improve other health issues.
Proper protein - A main portion of the healthy liver diet is restricting the amount of protein that you take in with individual meals. Protein is helpful to the body because it can help repair damaged tissue, but those with damaged livers may not be able to clear excess protein from their system, which can build up to a toxic level in the system.
More carbohydrates - Patients will also need to increase the amount of carbohydrates they consume in order to help maintain their glycogen levels. Glycogen is the stored version of carbohydrates that provide energy to the body. Taking in more carbohydrates is important when you are eating less protein because it helps ensure that your body will not run out of the fuel it needs to function well.
Drop sodium intake - Too much salt in your diet can cause your body to retain water, which can lead to fluid buildup in the liver. This will cause the liver to swell, which can be quite painful as well as dangerous. Decreasing sodium intake is essential for those who have a liver that is not functioning at the optimum level.
Get vitamins or drug supplements - In some cases, those who are restricting their diets due to liver damage will need to take vitamins or drug supplements to help ensure that they are getting all of the nutrients they need to promote ideal body health. If this is necessary for you, your doctor will recommend specific products to meet your unique needs.
Foods Good for Liver
Detoxifying foods - Foods that are encouraged in a healthy liver diet are those that assist the detoxing process throughout the body. These foods help the liver do its job more efficiently so that it doesn't need to work as hard. These include sulphur based foods like garlic and onions which help rid the body of mercury, food additives and excess oestrogen. Beets can also be used to purify the blood and absorb heavy metals which are in the system. Eating fruits high in antioxidants such as raisons, grapefruit, oranges, pears, berries, plums and prunes can protect the liver from damaging free radicals that may be in the system. Apples can also be used to eliminate free radicals and heavy metals from the body.
Foods that help detoxify the liver itself include cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Many who are following a healthy liver diet also recommend drinking a cup of boiled water with fresh squeezed lemon first thing in the morning to cleanse the liver and promote bile production. Eating artichokes and bitter leafy greens like endive or dandelions will also help increase bile production while clearing out micro-organisms that can be harmful to the body.
Diet changes - In addition to increasing foods that are good for the liver, it is important to adjust your diet overall to ensure that you are getting all the kinds of food stores that you need. Protein intake should be limited to 1g of protein for every kilogram of body weight. Proteins that are to be eaten should be lean such as beans, tofu, chicken, fish, yogurt, eggs, peanut butter, or cottage cheese because they are easier to break down and digest. Foods that are high in sodium should be cut out of your diet as much as possible to prevent bloating. Gaps in the diet should be replaced with carbohydrates to give patients plenty of sources of energy.
Proper liquid intake - Patients will also need to limit their liquid intake to help avoid excessive swelling. This includes items such as soda, water and juice as well as foods such as soup or gelatin that are comprised of liquids. Talk with your doctor regarding what level of liquid intake is appropriate for you based on your sides.
Foods to avoid - Specific foods that should be avoided when you are eating a healthy liver diet include prepared meals or frozen dinners, snack foods, condiments such as soy or barbecue sauce, canned vegetables and juice, prepared meats such as bacon and deli meats, soups and table salt.