Primary sclerosing cholangitis is an inflammatory disorder of the bile ducts inside and outside the liver. The inflammation causes scarring and hardening that narrows these ducts. The disease may also affect ducts of the gallbladder and pancreas. Diet changes can help decrease the inflammation, according to Dr. Sandra Cabot, author of the 1997 book "The Liver Cleansing Diet."
When bile ducts become narrowed, bile cannot drain effectively and it can accumulate in the liver and damage liver cells, explains Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology. The ducts may become infected, resulting in fever, chills and tenderness in the upper abdomen. If bile leaks into the bloodstream, itchiness may develop. Disease progression can cause chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss and jaundice. Long-term liver cell damage can lead to cirrhosis, a hardening of the liver that prevents it from functioning properly.
Many types of foods can help patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis, according to Cabot. She recommends eating as much raw food as possible and drinking raw vegetable juices that contain a combination of apples, beets, broccoli, carrots and celery. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower support liver function and detoxification. Eating foods high in sulfur has an effect on toxins that makes them easier to excrete. These foods include eggs, garlic, legumes and onions. Rely on fresh or canned fish and organic poultry as good protein sources. Chicken and turkey should be free range and raised without growth hormones or antibiotics. In addition, drink 2 liters of water every day.
Foods to Avoid
Cabot recommends avoiding all cow's milk products and any foods containing gluten, which occurs naturally in wheat, barley and rye. In addition, do not eat fried or processed foods, preserved meats and all margarine and similar spreads. You should not drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages. Products containing refined sugar and flour, chocolate and artificial sweeteners also are off limits.
Primary sclerosing cholangitis may decrease the flow of bile into the gut, which can prevent the digestion of fat. This leads to a type of fatty diarrhea called steatorrhoea. The British Liver Trust recommends eating less fat if this occurs. Don't eliminate fat from your diet altogether because some amount is essential for the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
Cabot recommends taking anti-inflammatory supplements to decrease bile duct inflammation caused by primary sclerosing cholangitis. These include vitamins C, E and natural beta-carotene. Another beneficial anti-inflammatory substance is selenium, according to Cabot, which you can obtain by consuming 2 tsp. daily of a yeast powder high in selenium.