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What Not To Eat When You Have A Liver Problem?

Liver is a very important organ of our body. It is considered to be a chemical factory since it performs 500 different functions.1 Some of its functions are metabolism, production of bile juice for fat digestion, making important proteins and detoxification of chemicals for their removal. However, when one experiences liver problem, this organ is not healthy to perform its functions optimally. Therefore, the patient with liver problem should not consume food which is hard on liver and causes stress to it. Hence, it is essential to consume special healthy diet and to avoid unhealthy food that will harm the liver further.

What Not To Eat When You Have A Liver Problem?

What Not To Eat When You Have A Liver Problem?

The patient with liver problem must eat healthy and a special diet designed to ease and soothe the liver. There are certain foods which need to be avoided or limited in the diet.

Avoid Consumption of Unhealthy Fats When Having Liver Problem:

Liver makes bile juice which is required for metabolism of fats. Due to liver problem, its ability to make bile is reduced. This affects digestion and absorption of fats. In addition, there is unexplained loss of weight due to loss of appetite. Hence, one with liver problem should not completely stop taking fats, instead of consuming saturated and trans fat containing foods, one should choose unsaturated fats. For example, foods which contain saturated fats are whole milk, all animal products and butter. The fried and processed foods contain trans fat. While, foods which contain unsaturated fats are olive oil, corn oil, sunflower oil and canola oil require less amount of bile to break them down. Eating of healthy unsaturated fats helps to gain and maintain weight.

Someone With Liver Problems Should Consume Fluids and Sodium in Limits:

Due to liver disease, the protein such as albumin required for maintaining osmotic balance is not synthesized. This leads to reduced ability to retain fluid in the blood vessels. The fluid leaks and accumulates in the abdomen called as Ascites. When this fluid accumulates in legs, ankles and other tissues, it is called edema. Hence, one has to reduce the intake of salt and fluids which limits the fluid retention in the body. One should avoid consumption of foods high in salt content. Processed meats such as sausages, bacon, and salami, snack foods, canned vegetables and soups and cheese should not be consumed in excess when having liver problems. One should take sodium less than 2,000 mg per day.

Consume Protein Rich Foods in Limits When You Have a Liver Problem:

Liver performs metabolism of proteins especially the catabolism of protein. Since liver is damaged, it cannot process proteins. This leads to accumulation of ammonia in blood, which eventually can affect brain functioning. Foods that contain very high amounts of protein are to be eaten in limits to prevent built up of toxic products. Foods such as meat, fish, poultry and dairy products, seeds, legumes should be consumed in minimal amounts. However, proteins should not be avoided from diet since certain proteins provide our body with essential amino acids. Approximately, 1 gram of protein per 1 kilogram body weight should be consumed.

Avoid Consumption of Refined Sugar in Case of Liver Problem:

Liver performs metabolism of sugar and its related food into fats. In case of damaged liver, consuming sugar means adding more stress on it and the effects are as seen in case of diabetics. Hence, it is necessary to avoid sugar containing foods as well such as cake, pastries, cookies, and fruit beverages.

Avoid Consumption of Spicy, Oily and Tangy Foods:

Patients with liver problems have swollen legs and feet which are caused due to fluid retention. Eating spicy food stuff causes discomfort to liver. In addition, spicy food intake makes one to drink more water causing more retention of fluid and adds to swelling.

In special cases, one needs to avoid the following depending on the condition:

Limit Consumption of Iron for Hemochromatosis:

Hemochromatosis means damage of liver due to increased accumulation of iron in the liver. One should avoid eating iron rich tablets, foods and fruits. Making food in iron pots and pans is to be avoided. Eating uncooked shellfish is to be avoided.

Limit Consumption of Copper for Wilson’s Disease:

Wilson’s disease is a genetic problem which leads to accumulation of copper in the body including liver. Hence, person suffering from Wilson disease should avoid eating foods rich in copper such as nuts, shellfish (raw and uncooked oysters and clams), mushrooms and should not prepare food in copper pots.

Avoiding the above mentioned foods will help to reduce discomfort to liver and prevent complications.

Diet for Patient with Liver Problem

The patient with liver problem has to eat simple but healthy food to gain weight. It should be a well-balanced diet which should provide calories, nutrients and energy.2 The diet should contain more amount of carbohydrates, moderate amounts of proteins and little amount of healthy fats. Foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, oil containing unsaturated fatty acids, and milk needs to be consumed. Similarly, fibre containing foods should be eaten. In addition, drinking enough amount of water is necessary. Scientific research studies suggests bioactive food components and natural products including astaxanthin, curcumin, blueberry, silymarin, coffee, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D, resveratrol, quercetin and epigallocatechin-3-gallate are beneficial and have antifibrotic effects in the liver.3

Along with diet restrictions, the patient with liver problem should stop with the following:

  • Habit of excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking of cigarette
  • Eating fast food
  • Taking medicines
  • Excessive amount of Vitamin A and supplements.

It is necessary to avoid the above mentioned things, since if continued they will worsen the liver problem.


Liver is one of the most important organ of our body. Many risk factors cause problems to the liver. Thus just getting specific treatment is not enough, since one needs to follow a special diet as advised by the doctor. This will enable the liver to recover. If dietary restrictions are not followed, then symptoms of liver problem will get worse and will lead to other health problems.

Also Read:


  1. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/liver-anatomy-and-functions
  2. Nutrition in Chronic Liver Disease GE Port J. Gastroenterology: 2015-Nov-Dec; 22(6) 268-276 Language: English | Portuguese Marco Silva,a,⁎ Sara Gomes,b Armando Peixoto,a Paulo Torres-Ramalho,c Hélder Cardoso,a Rosa Azevedo,d Carla Cunha,d and Guilherme Macedonia
  3. Food components with antifibrotic activity and implications in prevention of liver disease. J Nutr Biochem. 2017 Nov 16;55:1-11. Bae M1, Park YK1, Lee JY2.
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 4, 2020

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