Cirrhosis is the significant scarring of the liver after the liver is severely injured, either by infections, alcohol consumption, or other causes. While cirrhosis can’t be managed with lifestyle changes alone, these changes are vital as some controllable risk factors such as alcohol consumption and dietary habits, can continue to injure the liver, rendering the medications useless.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cirrhosis, preventing more scarring of the liver is vital. Read on to find out what our experts at Carolina Digestive Health Associates have to say about the habits you can start implementing today to feel better.
Quitting alcohol is life-saving if you are suffering from cirrhosis because alcohol is broken down in the liver. Over time, excessive consumption damages the liver. However, after the appearance of cirrhosis, even small amounts of alcohol will cause damage. In other words, complete abstinence from alcohol is recommended. If you are struggling with alcohol consumption, there are several routes you can take to gain control, including 12-step programs and counseling for addiction. Throughout some programs, you’ll also receive support for withdrawals from alcohol.
Seafood is a great source of omega-3, which can lower inflammation, but when raw, it does come with the risk of being contaminated with hepatitis A, bacteria, and parasites. To get the benefits from seafood without the risks, make sure you cook it well.
Supplements can sometimes do more harm than good. For example, vitamin A in large doses can be toxic to the liver, and if your liver is already damaged, even smaller doses can cause harm. Iron supplements and vitamin C supplements can also be problematic.
In the past, patients with cirrhosis were put on a low-protein diet, but nowadays medical providers recognize that protein can reduce muscle wasting, prevent fatty buildup, and support healthy cell growth. In other words, your body uses protein to maintain the integrity of the tissue in your body, including your liver. The best sources of protein include low-fat meats, dairy, and seafood. Vegans can opt for protein from grains and seeds, which include soy, chickpea, rice, or quinoa.
Ascites, a condition in which fluid accumulates in the abdomen, is a complication of cirrhosis. However, consuming less salt can reduce the risk of developing it. Low sodium levels combined with diuretic medicines can prevent fluid build-up.
Cirrhosis is a worrisome diagnosis, but in the right hands and with a personalized treatment followed by close monitoring, you can prevent complications and improve your quality of life. The key is to act as soon as possible to stop the disease from progressing. Contact us to schedule an appointment to get expert help and an empathetic team on your side to regain your health.