A person with liver disease must eat a special diet. This diet protects the liver from working too hard and helps it to function as well as possible.
Proteins normally help the body repair tissue. They also prevent fatty buildup and damage to the liver cells.
In people with severely damaged livers, proteins are not properly processed. Waste products may build up and affect the brain. Restricting the amount of protein in the diet can reduce the chance that toxic waste products will build up.
The body stores carbohydrates in the form of glycogen. Increasing carbohydrates in the diet helps preserve glycogen stores. People with liver disease may need to increase their intake of carbohydrates in proportion to protein.
Salt in the diet may worsen fluid buildup and swelling in the liver, because salt causes the body to retain water. Most people with severe liver disease must restrict the amount of sodium in their diet.
DeLegge MH. Nutrition in gastrointestinal diseases. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2006: chap 16.
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