Liver Transplant Houston: Is There a Special Diet to Follow?

A common question I am asked daily is in regard to “what kind of diet do I need to be on while waiting for my liver transplant?”. There is a great deal of misunderstanding surrounding this, that it deserves a few simple comments.

The simple answer is that there is no special diet you have to follow if you have cirrhosis. The central area of concern is dietary sodium or salt. The goal is to have a reduced salt diet, in the neighborhood of 1,500-2,000 mg per day. This is a very restrictive diet compared to the standard American diet (aka SAD). The SAD may include well over 6,000 mg per day. Too much!

The simplest way to achieve such a restricted diet is to eliminate all processes foods, avoid all foods in a can, bag, or box. If it has more than 5 ingredients on the label, keep away.

Salt is the enemy to anyone with chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. The body’s handling of salt and sodium are malfunctioning, resulting in fluid retention, edema, and the development of ascites. In many circumstances, diuretics (water pills) need to be used to remove the excess salt and fluid from the body.

All of our patients need to consume fresh fruits and vegetables, lean fresh meat and fish, and foods found in their natural state. This may be an overwhelming challenge to those accustomed to eating out and or consuming large quantities of processed foods. It is impossible to meet this less than 2,000 mg salt intake by eating out.

I highlight numerous tips from
past entries that will help you with this mission. Read labels, stop eating out, and eat foods found in their natural state.

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