Liver Disease Diet: What you Need to Know?

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Having a liver disease means you can no longer eat however and whatever you want. Instead, you now need a special diet that provides you with proper nutrition while protecting your liver from further damage. With different liver disease, you would need a different eating plan with specific restriction.

Hepatic encephalopathy

Hepatic encephalopathy refer to a medical condition in which severe scar tissue forms in the liver, blocking the normal blood flow through the liver.  The blood which is supposed to be detoxified in the liver go back to the central circulation, causing impaired mental function.

The treatment for hepatic encephalopathy focuses on reducing toxins like ammonia, a by-product of protein digestion. This does not mean every patient has to go through a protein restriction. Only those whose encephalopathy is disabled, not responding to lactulose or nemycin, need a lower protein dose. In fact, consuming less than 20 grams of protein a day is impractical in long term therapy and doctors do not advise this therapy.

Ascites and edema

Ascites is a condition in which the patients’ abdominal cavity have an accumulation of fluid. Edema refers to the fluid building up in the tissues of usually the feet, legs or back. Both ascites and edema lead to abnormal accumulation of sodium together with portal hypertension and liver disease. For patients with these conditions, sodium intake is often restricted. They are allowed to consume no more than 2 to 3 grams of sodium without any canned food, cold cut products, condiments, and some certain cheeses. To make up for that, patients can look for lemon juice.


In cholestasis, one’s liver is unable to excrete bile. As a result, he will suffer from steatorrhea (fat malabsorption). The signs are oily stool with foul smelling. Patients with cholestasis can seek help from fat supplements. Those products include medium-chain triglycerides (MCT oil) or safflower oil. These oils can be absorbed without bile from the liver.

Steatorrhea may also prevent patients from absorbing fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K properly. Luckily, there are also supplements that can help. What patients should do is follow their physician’s guidance.

Wilson disease

Wilson disease comes along with a defect in copper metabolism. Accordingly, patients with Wilson disease would have an amount of copper building up many organs of their body, from the liver to the brain and even the cornea of their eye. Therefore, they are in need of a de-coppering agent, penicillamine, to get rid of the excessive copper. Besides, they should not consume any foods that contain copper, such as chocolate, nuts, shellfish and mushrooms.


Hemochromatosis happens when the intestine fails to appropriately absorb iron. The excessive iron builds up in the liver, pancreas as well as other organs in the body. Patients with hemochromatosis should not take any iron supplements. Aside from this, they can follow a normal eating plan.

Fatty liver

Fatty liver does not result from eating fat but is linked to alcohol, obesity, starvation, some drugs and other factors. Those with fatty liver should have a well-balanced diet in combination with the removal of any chemical substances or drugs responsible for the condition.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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