Biliary cirrhosis is a chronic condition that leads to inflammation and damage to the bile ducts, until they finally disappear. Bile is an enzyme that is produced by the liver. It is transported by the bile ducts to the gall bladder and then to the small intestine. Here it aids in the digestion of fats and the fat soluble vitamins, namely vitamins A, E, D and K. When biliary cirrhosis occurs, the bile begins to accumulate in the liver, causing damage to the tissues of the liver.
The exact cause of biliary cirrhosis is uncertain.
Studies have suggested that the disease may be arising from an autoimmune condition wherein the immune system attacks the bile ducts of the body. In normal circumstances, the immune system only fights against foreign harmful agents such as viruses and bacteria. But in autoimmune diseases, it mistakenly begins to attack and destroy its own tissues and organs.
There may be genetic factors involved in the development of biliary cirrhosis. Individuals with biliary cirrhosis are likely to have one parent or one sibling that suffers from this condition. This is especially true in the case of identical twins.
Genetic factors can cause individuals to become vulnerable to other autoimmune conditions also. Many individuals with biliary cirrhosis, also suffer from other autoimmune conditions such as autoimmune thyroiditis and rheumatoid arthritis. Those who have developed biliary cirrhosis due to genetic factors are likely to have become affected with the condition following exposure to certain chemicals or after infections like urinary tract infections.
The type of diet that is considered ideal for those affected with biliary cirrhosis is one that is heart-healthy. The diet must be low in intake of fats and should consist of increased amounts of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important. Some other changes that a diet for biliary cirrhosis should incorporate are restriction of salt intake, increase in intake of protein and calories and elimination of alcohol. Alcohol leads to further liver damage and hence must be avoided completely. Also, avoid consuming raw shellfish or oysters as these may contain bacteria which can lead to infections in individuals affected with biliary cirrhosis. This condition makes the liver very sensitive to medications and hence one must consult a doctor before taking any type of medication. Exercise is essential for those with biliary cirrhosis as it helps in the prevention of osteoporosis, which is one of the complications arising out of the condition.