The primary functions of the liver are to detoxify the body and to produce the bile used to digest food. However, the liver also stores certain vitamins, minerals, sugars, regulates fat storage and controls the production and excretion of cholesterol. By neutralizing poisonous substances, metabolizing alcohol and removing bacteria from the blood, the liver plays an important role in keeping the body healthy. If the liver has been damaged, a healthy, well-balanced diet may help the liver cells regenerate.
Since the liver filters the unused nutrients out of the body, an excessive amount of certain vitamins can cause additional stress on the liver. Mega-vitamin supplements, especially ones containing large amounts of vitamin A and vitamin D, can be particularly toxic. However, it may be beneficial to supplement a diet designed for liver health with additional vitamin B complexes.
Calories and Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates should be the major source of calories in a diet designed for liver health. Increased consumption of carbohydrates and fats may prevent protein from breaking down, preserving it in the body. However, it is important to monitor caloric intake. Excessive calories, especially in the form of carbohydrates, can cause fat deposits to form in the liver, causing further stress to the liver. On average, a person needs about 15 calories a day per pound of weight in order to meet his daily caloric needs.
Liver disease can cause fluid retention in the body, especially around the abdomen or hands and feet. Since sodium can increase the amount of fluid in the body, reducing the amount of sodium in a diet can help decrease the levels of excess fluid. While most foods contain small amounts of sodium, table salt and processed foods tend to contain large amounts. Foods that contain more then 300 mg of sodium per serving are considered high in sodium and should be avoided.
The liver plays an important role in the digestion of protein. As protein is being broken down, waste products such as ammonia are formed. A healthy liver can rid the body of these toxins, however, if the liver has been compromised, toxins can build up in the blood and tissue. This build-up of toxins can cause tiredness, nausea, vomiting, forgetfulness and mental confusion. To avoid this, a diet for liver regeneration may contain only about 1 g of protein per kg of body weight.
Alcohol and Drugs
In order to give the liver a chance to regenerate, avoid substances that can stress the liver. Since alcohol is filtered out of the body through the liver, all forms of alcohol should be avoided until the liver has a chance to rebuild. Also avoid medicines containing acetaminophen, since, like alcohol, acetaminophen is filtered through the liver. Certain herbal remedies like comfrey, margosa oil, mate tea and chaparral can also be toxic to a liver, especially if liver cells have already been damaged.