The liver is a very important organ that affects many physiological processes occurring in the body. The liver, through the portal circulation, has contact with most of the substances that enter our body with food.
Structure of the liver
The liver is composed of lobes and has a double vascularization: nutritional from the hepatic arteries and functional from the portal vein. Most of the blood from the abdominal organs flows through this organ – it is the first station through which all components supplied to the body with food pass. In the liver, they are transformed and metabolized.
The functions of the liver are mainly carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, storage, detoxification, bile production, participation in immune reactions and thermoregulation. This multitude of functions means that any damage to the liver is clearly reflected in its function.
The liver diet is particularly important in cases of chronic liver disease when this organ does not function properly. There are certain dietary guidelines which indicate the more or less indicated products which may harm the liver or contribute to its regeneration. The set of these recommendations is commonly referred to as the liver diet.
What is the liver diet and when is it followed?
The liver diet is a set of dietary guidelines that apply to acute and chronic liver diseases with liver cell damage and impaired liver function. The main objectives of this diet are to limit the supply of substances to the liver that may further damage it and to limit bile secretory activity.
The liver diet is used in the following disorders
- chronic hepatitis, for example, due to persistent infection with hepatotropic viruses
- cirrhosis, usually due to alcohol abuse
- alcoholic liver disease
What harms the liver? What to avoid in liver disease?
All substances absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract reach the liver via the portal bloodstream. For this reason, liver cells (called hepatocytes) are constantly at risk of damage.
Alcohol intake is an important factor in liver damage. The harmful effects of alcohol are mainly due to its metabolites, which damage the liver cells. Alcoholic liver diseases are mainly alcoholic steatosis and cirrhosis.
Drugs have a similar negative effect on the liver; these are mostly artificial substances, and they and the products of their hepatic metabolism can damage hepatocytes. It is estimated that approximately 1,000 drugs can have adverse effects on the liver, potentially causing drug-induced liver damage.
What does a liver diet look like? What to eat if you have a diseased liver?
The liver diet is nothing more than an easy-to-digest diet with limited fats. It should be noted that this is not a weight-loss diet – the supply of calories should be normal, but the nature and preparation of food should be light, not overloading the liver. Restriction of fats in the diet is done mainly to reduce the secretion of bile and pancreatic enzymes, which are important in the digestion of fats.
The basic principles of a good diet for liver regeneration are described below.
- Eat 5-6 small meals a day.
- Food should not be fried.
- In the liver diet, the intake of fats should be limited, so give up butter, oils, and fatty meats – choose rather poultry, lean veal.
- It is advisable to eat fish, but not fatty ones – cod and trout are preferable to halibut or salmon.
- Protein is good for the liver, and its supply should be included in the daily diet.
- It is recommended to use herbs for the liver.
- It is advisable to avoid spicy, bloating foods (beans, peas) and canned foods, spicy mustard, pepper, mayonnaise.
- You should pay attention to the supplementation of vitamins A, D, E and K, that is fat-soluble vitamins, eat a lot of red and yellow vegetables and fruits.
- It is forbidden to drink alcohol, which further damages the liver.
- Avoid sweets.
- Strong coffee and fizzy drinks should be limited.