The liver is a solid organ located on the right side of the belly. It is around 3 pounds in weight and reddish-brown in color. The normal liver remains protected by the rib cage, but in cases of liver disease there might be some swelling that can be felt by the patient.
The main function of the liver is to metabolize drugs, filter the blood before it gets distributed in the body and detoxification of chemicals.
Diet has an important role in the liver’s health. There are some food habits that are good for the health of your liver, while others should be avoided. Most of the liver problems arise because of fat accumulation around the liver, called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This is very common in people who are overweight or obese.
Dietary habits to be avoided for liver disease patients are –
Avoid radical diet –
The majority of liver problems revolve around the enlargement of the liver. Progressive weight loss can reverse the condition. Studies have shown that people with 500 kcal reduction in daily caloric intake have a significant decrease in their liver fat.
However, an extremely caloric deficit diet also harms and causes liver inflammation. So it is important to maintain a balanced and appropriate calorie diet.
Avoid alcohol –
The liver is the organ that metabolizes alcohol. However, only a certain amount can be metabolized over a period of time. When the level of alcohol increases over a limit, the liver function is interrupted resulting in a chemical imbalance. While metabolizing this alcohol, the liver cells get destroyed or altered resulting in deposition of fat which can lead to more serious problems.
For males, the threshold is around 3 ounces per day for 10 years, which can lead to the development of liver cirrhosis.
It is highly recommended by health experts to moderate the alcohol intake in their daily life.
Avoid Fructose –
Concentrated levels of fructose stimulate hepatic lipogenesis.
Main sources of fructose are –
- Soft drinks
- Sweet fruit drinks
- Breakfast cereals
- Canned fruits
- Ketchup, jams, and jellies
- Pastries, cakes, and pies
It is advisable to carefully check for the ingredients list before buying if you are a liver patient.
However, not all sources of fructose are harmful to the liver, therefore one should not rule out fruits from the diet.
Avoid saturated and trans fats
There have been significant studies that prove the ill effects of fats on the liver. The main sources of saturated fats are –
- Cold cuts
- Red meats
- Ice cream
Common sources of trans fat are –
- Commercially fried foods
- French fries
The intake of ‘partially hydrogenated oils’ also needs to be avoided.
Alternatively, you can add fish and seafood, eggs to your diet, as the main source of protein. Products such as soy (tofu) can also be preferred as it is rich in protein.
There are certain fruits and vegetables which have high levels of pesticide residue on them. They can be –
It is highly recommended washing the fruit or vegetable thoroughly before consuming.
Heavy intakes of sodium on the body have a negative effect on the liver. The high levels of sodium can cause changes in the cell structure of the liver, which can promote a higher rate of cell death in the liver.
Some advice to follow for sodium intake –
- Unsalted or low sodium foods should be preferred. Look for foods with ‘low sodium’, ‘no added salt’ or ‘no sodium’.
- Buy fresh or frozen vegetables.
- Consume low sodium tomato juice.
- Opt for unsalted nuts.
- Avoid adding salt to the diet.
In addition to these: dry mustard, onion/garlic powder or fresh ginger can be added.
The basic tests done to diagnose the liver disease are –
- Liver Function Test
- Abdominal Ultrasound
The Liver transplant hospitals in India have the following treatments available to treat liver diseases –
- For fatty liver – weight control, medicines and lifestyle changes
- For alcoholic liver disease – limit alcohol, medicines and lifestyle changes
- End-stage Liver Disease – liver transplant
For end-stage liver diseases, the specialists provide special diet plans and test the patient for liver transplants. The success rate for this surgery is promising and a transplant patient may be able to lead a normal life after the transplant.