Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Alcoholic Hepatitis Diet

A person with alcoholic hepatitis may benefit from the following diet.

The liver is essential for the digestion of all foods. In the presence of liver disease, the ability to effectively metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins can be compromised. A liver disease diet is one in which foods are selected in quantities which provide adequate nutrition, but protect the liver from overworking.

Carbohydrates should be the major source of energy (calories) for individuals with liver disease. Proteins assist in tissue repair and prevent fatty infiltration of liver cells. Those with severely compromised liver function must limit their intake of protein. In this case protein is not properly broken down and waste products can build up in the bloodstream.

Those with liver disease will often suffer from sodium imbalances. Manifestations of sodium imbalance include ascites (abdominal fluid build-up) and edema (swelling) of the extremities. In this case dietary sodium restriction is essential.

The essentials of the liver disease diet:

  • High carbohydrate diet:
    • This is the major source of calories in this diet.
  • Moderate fat intake:
    • The increased carbohydrate and fat help in preserving the protein in the body and prevent muscle wasting.
  • Low protein diet:
    • Restrict protein to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
    • Severe liver disease may require measured amounts of protein supplements.
  • Vitamin B supplements
  • Low salt diet

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Last Updated: Feb 21, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Alcoholic Hepatitis References
  1. Haber PS, Warner R, Seth D, Gorrell MD, McCaughan GW. Pathogenesis and management of alcoholic hepatitis. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2003 Dec;18(12):1332-44. [14675260]
  2. Madhotra R, Gilmore IT. Recent developments in the treatment of alcoholic hepatitis. QJM. 2003 Jun;96(6):391-400. [12788957]
  3. O'Shea RS, McCullough AJ. Treatment of alcoholic hepatitis. Clin Liver Dis. 2005 Feb;9(1):103-34. [15763232]
  4. Willner IR, Reuben A. Alcohol and the liver. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2005 May;21(3):323-30. [15818153]
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