Similar to people without cirrhosis, people with cirrhosis should limit their intake of fats and eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other heart-healthy foods. However, some diet changes that are unique to those with cirrhosis include limiting salt, eating more calories and protein, and eliminating alcohol.
An Overview of the Cirrhosis Diet
Cirrhosis occurs when damaged liver cells are replaced with scar tissue. Too much scarring prevents blood from flowing normally through the liver. This causes even more damage and loss of liver function. Cirrhosis can hinder the body's use of nutrients and can lead to malnutrition.
- Limiting salt
- Eating more calories and protein
- Eliminating alcohol.
Limiting SaltMany patients with cirrhosis tend to hold onto (retain) water. This is often first shown by swelling in the ankles, particularly after walking. The swelling may move up the legs to the abdomen. Water buildup in the abdomen is called "ascites."
- Avoid salty foods, salt in cooking, and salt at the table. Anything that tastes salty (such as tomato sauce, salsa, soy sauce, or canned soups) probably has too much salt. Try spicing things up with lemon juice or herbs instead of salt. Fresh foods are usually a better bet than processed foods.
- Read food labels when shopping. Check the amount of sodium in the foods you are buying.
- Avoid fast-food restaurants. Most fast foods are very high in sodium.
- Go easy on meats -- especially red meats, which are high in sodium. When possible, consider vegetarian (meat-free) alternatives.