A high calorie/high protein diet is a standard diet for people suffering from the anorexia of advanced cirrhosis when the liver is no longer able to properly metabolize foods.Those with advanced cirrhosis typically have abnormal nutrient and caloric intake, decreased intestinal absorption, and metabolic disturbances. This leads frequently to anorexia and early satiety, which contribute to decreased food intake leading to malnutrition. Without enough protein to maintain muscle mass the body muscle wastes away to skin and bone with the resulting emaciated body and the huge belly of ascitic fluid. Protein is essential for maintaining muscle mass. Myself and many of my transplant friends have lived on Ensure and other protein drinks when we were so ill we couldn't eat anything else. Of course a healthy balanced diet is best, but when all else fails, you can always get down a protein drink.
Malnutrition is almost universally present in patients with ESLD (End-Stage Liver Disease) waiting liver transplantation and has been associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Losing too much weight is dangerous to a person's overall health!
Nutrition is an integral part of maintaining one's health as the liver fails and one is more in need of a transplant. The liver is the largest and the most important organ for metabolizing food our carbohydrates, fats, proteins and vitamins.
You should make an appointment with a dietitian in the liver transplant department (they specialize in diets for transplant patients understanding the restrictions most patient have in order to manage the complications of cirrhosis such as ascites, HE etc.) to learn how to maintain your health until you can get a liver transplant. Those who go into their transplant healthier typically how smoother and quicker recoveries. Of course those who become too ill with complications will have to have their condition stabilized before they can survive the transplant surgery.
Contact your liver transplant and let them know we want to learn about maintaining your health with a proper diet. They can best specialist the diet to your individual needs. They can provide you with lots of options so you can stay as healthy as you given the circumstances. One you get a transplant and a new healthy liver the weigh will come back and usually then more than enough.
Why must all supplement drinks be so sweet and always chocolate flavored? Ick. I'll drink it if I have to. I like Carnation Breakfast Essentials. Doesn't pack as much of a punch, but adds a lot to the nutrition party. It was recommended by the dietitians because ensure grossed me out at a certain point. A break from it was really needed. Fluid restrictions and supplement drinks also pose a challenge. It takes up a lot of my allowed volume. I can control the fluids in the Carnation product.
Transplant has been brought up, but my current doctors are telling me that I'm still too healthy and I need to gain ~25lbs for them to feel ok with even considering it. Thus, I have no transplant team at the moment. I was just running graphs of my blood work and it looks like I'm getting closer and closer to normal. I am being treated at one of the hospitals that has what is considered the gold standard in liver treatment and transplantation. I have talked to several nutritionists, but not a dietitian that specializes in transplant patients. I'll ask my doctors about that. It's been hard to gauge weight loss or gain because of the ascites.
I'm also a vegetarian. That's another layer of challenge. I've started trying to eat some sort of animal product (those things closer to being slugs or bugs and may or may not have an exoskeleton).
We need 50-80 grams of protein a day. Check non animal foods that contain protein. If I have more than a 4 oz. piece of chicken per day (or even every other day) I get a protein overload and feel sick however, it's important to overall health and muscle mass as stated above. I drink straight up cranberry juice for iron and vitamin C which is need for absorption. (no sugar or chemicals in it) It's very tricky to keep the protein intake steady. Like you, I only have so much room in my stomach so I have to choose wisely. I was like you describe and it scared me. Total wasting was not something I could imagine for myself. What a shock. It takes time to build it all back up. Good Luck. Let us know how it's going. Grazing is good too if you can manage it.
I would like to know if the food change has worked for you to gain weight-my husband is in stage 2 ,is skin and bones but eats all the time!we are devasted he has this disease as he contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion in the Vietnam War when he was severely wounded -