What to Eat if You Have Liver Disease
Working toward a healthy weight with diet and exercise is the normal treatment for those with liver disease, whether or not it is alcohol related. But what exactly is the best thing for those with liver disease to eat? The diet considerations vary a bit from what would be considered a healthy diet for just anyone because the chemistry of the body is different.
Many people with liver disease are insulin resistant, as glucose builds up in their blood and then the liver turns the extra sugar into fat. Specific fats can improve sensitivity to insulin and the ability to use it. The body’s cells will take the glucose in so that the liver doesn’t need to make and store any fat. Monounsaturated fats are found in plant sources like nuts, olives, and avocados. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish and fish oil, nuts, leafy veggies, vegetable oils, flax seeds, and flax seed oil. Stay away from saturated fats, meat, and dairy products. Say no to baked goods and fried foods with palm or coconut oil.
ALSO READ: Healthy Fats You Should Be Consuming
The Mediterranean Diet
While this diet was not meant for those with liver disease originally, this style of eating actually is a combination of all of the different foods that will help to reduce fat in the liver like antioxidants, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. The foods included in the Mediterranean Diet are fish, fruits, grains, olive oil, nuts, and vegetables.
Low Glycemic Carbs
Too many simple sugars will speed up the process where the liver turns food into fat—this means avoid things like regular sodas, candy, and other foods with added sugar (mostly called high fructose corn syrup). When you have a sweet tooth, choose something like fruit that is naturally sweet. Complex carbohydrates, like those with high amounts of fiber, are a great choice. In general, they will be lower on the glycemic index, meaning that they digest slower and the sugar doesn’t overwhelm the body. This helps to lower cholesterol and increase insulin sensitivity. Good carb choices are things like beans, lentils, whole grains, and starchy vegetables.
ALSO READ: Carbs vs Protein, Get the Balance Right
Antioxidants can help to protect cells from damage that occurs when fat builds up in the liver. Some great sources of antioxidants are green tea, raw garlic, coffee, reservatol (found in the skin of red grapes), goji berries, and selenium which is a mineral found in tuna, Brazil nuts, and oysters. To get your fill of antioxidants, start your day off right with the green tea or the coffee. If you enjoy these too late in the day it may put a damper on your night when you are trying to go to sleep.
Lowered levels of vitamin D could be related to fatty liver disease. This is the vitamin that the body makes when it is in the sun and is found in some dairy products. If opting for dairy, choose low fat. One study also found that low potassium levels and fatty liver disease may go hand in hand. Fish like salmon, cod, and sardines will give great amounts of potassium. It is also found in fruits and veggies like kiwis, bananas, apricots, sweet potatoes, peas, and broccoli.
What to Avoid
One thing to consider is to avoid excess sodium, as this can lead to fluid retention, and swelling in the body. This means limiting the amount of table salt that is consumed, limit bacon and sausage, canned juice and vegetables, frozen dinners, and soy, teriyaki, and barbecue sauces. Soups may seem harmless but can contain high amounts of sodium.
Another major thing to avoid is alcohol. Even if your own liver disease is not caused by alcohol, you still should not be drinking now. It may cause even more severe liver damage. While one drink every other month or so may be okay, there is a huge difference between casual drinking and alcoholism. Unfortunately the consequences for both can lead to liver disease, and alcohol is absolutely advised against when dealing with liver disease caused by alcohol.
Following a diet as such can lead to a decrease in symptoms of liver disease, but always consult with a doctor. They may also suggest that you take a supplement—but only take one when advised.
About Rait Raak
Rait is a fitness junky and owner of HowTonight – a blog focuses on health, nutrition and many more. He strives to heal the work by providing tips for healthier, happier life. Check him out on Twitter https://twitter.com/howtonightcom or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/howtonight/