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Eating Tips for People with Liver Cirrhosis

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Liver cirrhosis is a debilitating condition that involves scarring and hardening of the liver, leading to various health complications. Cirrhosis can be the end stage of a chronic liver disease. The liver disease patients have been increasing in number, and there are many reasons that can cause it. The damage in the liver due to cirrhosis may result in loss of function and affects the liver’s ability to store and release glycogen, a compound that provides energy when the body needs it. This causes the body to use its own muscle tissue as energy source between meals. It leads to malnutrition, muscle wasting, weakness and fatigue. Liver transplantation is the long-term solution for liver failure, which can be caused by progressing liver disease such as cirrhosis. The low liver transplant cost in India and the country’s world-class medical centres make it a highly popular destination amongst the international patients. India offers cost-effective healthcare packages for people from abroad seeking advanced medical facilities.

As cirrhosis is a complex liver disease and can get progressively worse, it is important to eat a healthy diet that helps the condition. The diet for a cirrhosis patient needs to be tailored on the basis of the patient’s overall health and personal preferences. However, there are some general guidelines and recommendations for the diet and eating plan:

  • Fruits and vegetables: It is best to choose the fresh fruits and vegetables regularly, instead of canned food that usually have sodium and sugar. Fruit can be addd to cereal or oats for more nutrition, fibre, and they can also act as some natural sweetness. Add fibre-rich fruits such as apples and oranges in your diet or have them as a healthy and satisfying snack. 
  • Milk products: Full-fat dairy might be too hard for the patient’s body to digest. It is advisable to consume low-fat Greek yogurt, or small portions of hard cheese with low-sodium. Fortified dairy-free milk alternatives such as almond or soy milk can also be used. 

It is also important to limit the intake of rich, milk-based desserts such as pudding, custard, and ice cream. Some patients might be suggested to completely avoid them in their cirrhosis diet if they have problems with processing fat and sugar. 

  • Grains: Food items such as whole-grain bread, wheat pasta, brown rice, and cereal should be included instead of products made of refined white flour. You can also include granola and granola bars as quick snacks but keep in mind that they should be low in sugar and sodium.
  • Protein: Protein is an important part of the diet, but red meat should be avoided in a cirrhosis diet. Also, processed lunch meat or sausage of any kind is also not approved. Lean poultry without the skin, that too in small servings, some types of fish such as salmon, and eggs or egg whites are approved for cirrhosis patients.

The majority of protein for a liver patient should come from plant-based sources, including dried beans, legumes, unsalted nuts or nut butter (but in small portions), and tofu. 

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  • Desserts: There is high sugar and salt content in the desserts such as packaged cake, brownie, cookie, biscuit, pancake, and waffle, so it’s best to avoid them. Generally, pastries, doughnuts, and muffins, are also to be avoided unless you opt for or make low-fat, low-sugar, and low-salt desserts.
  • Beverages: Alcohol is strictly to be avoided by a patient of liver cirrhosis. There are several other kinds of non-alcoholic drinks that a person can choose. Though, water is the best choice for hydration, but for a low-sodium diet, it is important to check the labels on bottled water as some brands may contain sodium. Milk and juice are okay for consumption, but they should be pasteurized.

Some studies suggest that coffee (not other caffeine-containing drinks) could benefit people with liver disease cause by alcohol abuse. However, medical professionals advise against use of caffeinated beverages, including coffee, tea, and soft drinks for patients with cirrhosis

Tips for Cooking 

Grilling or boiling the vegetable. Making them without oil or butter is also recommended. It is crucial to reduce the sodium intake in a cirrhosis diet, and instead of salt or processed products, try using fresh herbs and spices for cooking and flavoring meals. 

While cooking meat, start by including lean cuts of the meat. Skinless poultry is considered to be a healthier option in comparison to the red. Although, small parts of beef may be approved on occasion depending on its preparation. 

Also, it is advisable to avoid preparing raw or partially cooked meat or seafood. In fact, any kind of raw food should be limited. For a cirrhosis diet, proper food handling and safety practices are as important as choosing right food type to reduce the risk of foodborne infections.

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