High Protein Diet For Liver Cirrhosis

By | February 18, 2009

High Protein Diet For Good Health

I have low protein levels due to stage 4 liver disease and bridge fibrosis. Is there anything that can be done to improve the protein levels to decrease the retention of fluid in my body?

Stage 4 liver disease is what is known as cirrhosis of the liver, and involves the replacement of healthy liver tissue with fibrous scar tissue. This in itself is a severe condition, but there are degrees of severity in cirrhosis, and this needs to be considered when planning your diet. We can give you a few dietary recommendations here, but it is very important that you take your doctor’s guidance for this, as he or she will be more fully aware of all the details of your condition.

Protein Diet For Effective Liver Function

With liver cirrhosis, protein intake must be monitored carefully, because protein is essential for the liver to repair itself and function to the best of its ability, but at the same time, the liver is less equipped to handle an excess of protein. As a result, excess protein consumption can cause a condition known as encephalopathy – nitrogen and ammonia build up in the body and can affect brain function, leading to a number of other problems. Typically, it is recommended that a person with cirrhosis should get protein from plant sources, as this seems to be more easily digested and absorbed by the body. Plant foods that are high in protein include legumes, soy, and nuts. Plant sources are however not as rich in protein as animal sources, and you may need to eat accordingly to meet the daily requirement of around 50 grams of protein per day. However, you can also get your protein needs from dairy products, which are quite easily digested and assimilated.

The fluid retention in the body is known as ascites, and involves the build up of fluid specifically in the abdominal cavity. It is the result of fluid leaking from the blood vessels into the abdominal cavity due to a variety of reasons that are not yet fully understood. The best way to counter this problem is to reduce salt intake. The fluid build up can usually be substantially reduced by cutting down the amount of salt in your diet. This is of course difficult to do initially, but is really only a matter of habit. Be careful about eating packaged foods however, including preserved meats, as all such foods tend to be very high in salt. If this is not effective, then you will need to ask your doctor about other options, such as diuretics. Do not try to take diuretics on your own however, as this is very dangerous.