Foods to Avoid With a Bad Liver

The liver serves a vital role in regulating digestion, running your metabolism and getting harmful particles or chemicals out of your body. When the liver is damaged, it is unable to efficiently convert the nutrients in foods the same way a healthy liver can, which results in continued damage if care is not taken. Following a nutritious diet, while avoiding foods that agitate the liver, is important for maintaining liver health and overall quality of life.

Filet mingnot with vegetables. (Image: KristianGjorgjiev/iStock/Getty Images)

Animal-Based Foods

A damaged liver is unable to metabolize proteins properly and break down the amino acids produced in the body from eating animal-based foods. Avoid red meat, such as beef and bison. As well, you should eliminate or limit the eggs and dairy products you eat. Dairy may include milk, cheese and yogurt. Protein is important in overall nutrition, so opt for lean meats from poultry and non-meat protein sources such as beans and nuts. You may also consider trying plant-based products such as soy milk.

High-Sodium Foods

Salt contains sodium, which is not processed completely by a damaged liver. Canned foods, including soups, meats or vegetables, are high in salt and sugar, which cause abdominal swelling and fluid retention. Following a low-sodium diet is optimal for preventing further liver damage as well as unnecessary inflammation. Use garlic, pepper or spices to flavor foods instead of salt.

Sugary Foods

Avoid sugary foods such as candy, ice cream and cake and salty foods like potato chips, which are simple carbohydrates with high levels of sugar and sodium, respectively. Eat foods with natural sugars and fibrous carbs, such as strawberries, oranges or apples, to avoid unhealthy levels of sugar and sodium in your liver.


Depending on the severity of damage to your liver, a chance for regeneration can occur if you abstain from all alcoholic beverages. Chronic alcoholism contributes to the onset of liver damage because it inhibits proper absorption of nutrients, forcing the liver to become toxic. Avoid drinking beer, wine or champagne as well as any form of liquor. Take note that some over-the-counter pain medications also contain alcohol, such as cough syrup.

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