(modified for Canadian use from the American Liver Foundation)
Nutrition and Diet
What should you eat to ensure that your liver can function normally?
If you’re a liver cancer patient, your diet is adjusted to meet your individual needs. Talk to your doctor about what’s best for you. Aside from that, here are some general food tips for a healthy or healthier liver:
- What to avoid: Don’t eat foods high in fat, sugar and salt. Stay away from a lot of fried foods including fast food restaurant meals. Raw or undercooked shellfish such as oysters and clams are a definite no-no.
- Talk to your doctor about alcohol and your liver health: Depending on the state of your liver, you should avoid alcohol. If you’re allowed alcohol, limit it to no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman and two drinks a day if you’re a man.
- Eat a balanced diet: Select foods from all food groups: Grains, fruits, vegetables, meat and beans, dairy, and oil.
- Eat food with fibre: Fibre helps your liver work at an optimal level. Fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, rice and cereals can take care of your body’s fibre intake and needs.
- Drink lots of water: It prevents dehydration and it helps your liver to function better.
Here are 10 healthy tips to follow the next time you grocery shop or dine out:
1. Select fresh vegetables and fruits. When at a restaurant order, vegetables and fruits without sauces or added salt, sugar.
2. Choose fibre rich whole grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, oatmeal, rye, barley, quinoa, bulgur, etc.
3. Select skinless poultry and fish.
4. Order lean cuts of meat
5. Eat fish at least twice a week, especially fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, trout, herring, mackerel, sardines, albacore tuna)
6. Switch to low fat dairy such as milk (1% or skim), cheese, yogurts, etc.
7. Become a label reader and avoid trans fat such as packaged good items that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
8. Limit intake of saturated fat and trans fat and replace with monounsaturated (olive oil, canola oil) and polyunsaturated fats (corn oil, safflower oil, flax oil)
9. Reduce foods and beverages that contain added sugars
10. Select food with lower sodium levels and prepare meals with little or no salt.
For more information on informed dietary choices, consult the Canada Food Guide.