Liver is a vital organ, which secretes bile and takes part in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins and in many other vital metabolic processes. The diseases of the liver include:
i. Infective Hepatitis
This is otherwise called as viral hepatitis. The symptoms include anorexia, fever, headache, rapid weight loss, abdominal discomfort and jaundice, (ie) yellow discolouration of the skin and body tissues.
ii. Cirrhosis of Liver
Cirrhosis is a condition in which there is destruction of the liver cell due to viral infection, alcohol and toxins. The symptoms include anorexia, nausea, vomiting, pain, muscle cramps, weight loss, fever, jaundice and ascites. i.e. accumulation of fluid in the abdomen.
iii. Hepatic Coma
This results from entrance of certain nitrogen containing substances such as ammonia into the cerebral circulation without being metabolized by the liver. The precipitating factors are gastro intestinal bleeding, severe infections, surgical procedures and excessive dietary protein. The symptoms include confusion, restlessness, irritability, inappropriate behaviour and drowsiness. Treatment consists of dietary protein restriction and increased calorie intake.
Dietary management of hepatitis and cirrhosis
Energy: A high calorie diet is prescribed. The calorie requirement is between 2000 - 2500 calories.
Proteins: Protein requirement varies according to the severity of the disesase. In severe jaundice 40g is given while in mild jaundice 60 - 80g of protein is permitted.
Fats: About 20g of fat is given. Coconut oil, which contains medium chain fatty acids are given because it does not require bile acids for digestion.
Carbohydrates: High Carbohydrate content in the diet is essential to supply enough calories so that tissue proteins are not broken down for energy purposes.
Vitamins: They are essential to regenerate liver cells. Vitamin supplementation is essential for patients with liver diseases.
Foods Included: Cereal porridge, bread, rice, skimmed milk, fruit juices, biscuits and non stimulant beverages.
Foods Avided: Pulses, bakery products, concentrated sweets, fried foods, whole milk and cream.