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A Cirrhosis Survivor’s Guide: 9 Indispensable Diet Tips for Healing My Liver


After struggling with alcoholism for many years, I was diagnosed with advanced-stage Cirrhosis at 30 years old and almost died (read my story). When I finally got out of my coma and left the hospital, I knew I had to drastically change my diet and lifestyle. I worked with my doctors, who suggested I create a modified version of a Renal Diet in order to restore the health of my liver. This new diet has been essential to my healing liver and my body!

My new liver restoring diet emphasizes limiting fluids, eating a low-protein diet, limiting salt, potassium, phosphorous, and other electrolytes, and getting enough calories if you are losing weight. Here are a few tips from my diet that I have found indispensable:

9 Indispensable Diet Tips:

  • Sodium: I kept my daily intake of sodium to 2 mg per day. One thing to look out for is when a label reads ‘low sodium’ it is almost always replaced by sugar, which should also be limited.
  • Processed Foods: I removed processed sugars and foods from my diet. This means ‘instant’ anything, and everything that comes in a box or can should stay there! Beware of ‘sugar free’ labels are often packed with super-synthetic sweeteners that are just as bad for you.
  • Organic: organic foods are always best and should always be chosen over non-organic WHENEVER possible!
  • Distilled Water: drinking distilled water, especially in the first few weeks of recovery from something like hospitalization, is essential! Tap water is your enemy as much as eating a non-organic apple without washing it.
  • Protein: I limited my daily protein intake to 50g. Vegetable proteins are the easiest for me digest so I opt for those whenever possible. Soy, tempeh, nuts such as walnuts, almonds and pecans are great sources of protein. Eggs, fish (though not shellfish) and poultry are next easiest for me to digest, followed by pork, then red meats (such as beef and lamb). I avoid try to red meats whenever possible and remove skins from my poultry.
  • Fruits & Veggies: I have also learned to love cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower) and leafy greens of all sorts (kale, chard, radicchio, bok choy). I look for high fiber and nutrient dense vegetables like beets, carrots, brussel sprouts and artichokes. All fruits for me are great, but skin-on apples (the pectin aids in digestion) and dark berries (anthocyanins) are my favorites.
  • Herbs & Spices: Most any herb and spice is welcome but the best for me are turmeric, cinnamon, basil, cayenne and coriander.
  • Whole grains: whole grains and brown rice are great sources of carbohydrates, so depending on what your recommended carb load is per your dietician, I go crazy here as well. For pastas, I look to whole wheat and quinoa-based selections and always check the ingredients to make sure those grains are the primary ingredient.
  • Dairy: Dairy products should be considered protein sources, but ask your dietitian or doctor if they are appropriate, as they aren’t always the easiest proteins for people to digest.

Most are surprised to see that overall my cirrhosis healing diet is not terribly limiting. In general, I am selective, choosing organic options whenever possible, and purchasing the purest forms of all my foods. I use quick, easy cooking methods to preserve nutrients, and always take time to enjoy what I eat!

Here are some of my favorite recipes:

Greek Vegetable Terrine

German-Style Golden Beet Salad

Chia “Yogurt” Custard

Easy Savory Italian Quinoa Bites

Sumac Seared Mahi with Raddish and Pepper Slaw



Note: PLEASE consult with  your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


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Ian Whitcomb Contributor

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44 thoughts on “A Cirrhosis Survivor’s Guide: 9 Indispensable Diet Tips for Healing My Liver

  1. Marie

    I just found out I have Cirrhosis of the Liver… Not sure where I am at till my next Dotor visti. but I am following a diet just like your.. but would like more info and what foods I can and Can’t eat..

  2. Deborah creech

    I really need your help to live. I have cirrosis of the liver and I want to take care of my body the best way that I can
    My husband is doing everything that he can to take care of me. I have lost my ability to walk and I really want to know what kind of diet that I need to be on to help me the best way that I can. Please let me know something’s that I can do to live longer than what I am doing right now. Please don’t let me die right now. I have so many things that I have not been able to do yet with my family. I know that I have a longer life to live then just sitting here in my bed waiting for something to change.

    1. Recipe Team

      Hi Deborah:
      We are so sorry to hear that you are struggling with cirrhosis. Don’t give up! There are things you can change in your diet and lifestyle that can make improvements in your health-what you eat does matter! You may want to look for a holistic nutritionist who can give you guidance on what to eat/not eat. You can also get more guidance from Ian on food and lifestyle changes in these 2 articles. Hope this helps. Wishing you a speedy recovery and good health.

  3. Brendan

    Ian, just saying thanks for your story. How are you doing now? Can this diet really help heal late stage cirrhosis? I am newly diagnosed and I am feeling out.

  4. sandra johnson

    I have stage 4 liver from alcohol fatty liver to I stoped drinking I am scared of when is my death sentence I need help what to eat please any help

  5. Louis martin

    Hello I have followed the same diet you have I was diagnosed with cirrhosis three years ago and pretty much making a full recovery are in stage liver disease at age 38 thank you for your article really good to see other people out there following a great diet They prescribe me spironolactone 25 mg and 20 mg lasix My ascites has now cleared up and all my swelling gone I made a few YouTube videos Tony Lewis how are healed myself from cirrhosis thank you again Ian

  6. Eric Olech

    Great read. I was diagnosed with cirrhosis this year and I’m 26 years of age . My MELD score was insane also. Had every complication you can think of fellowing paracentesis, thoracentesis, varices banding ect. Doctors put me on lactulose immediately to eliminate as much ammonia as possible. They could not believe I was having actual full conversations with them, but with my own methods some similar to yours I got my MELD under 10. It’s good to hear a story from someone close in age dealing with cirrhosis makes me feel like I’m not alone.

  7. PAM

    Thank you, I am going for a scan soon to see if i have cirhossis. They told me i have an immflammation of the liver and fatty liver due to alcohol. I felt the fear of death he just told me to stop drinking. I am only 32 , i will try your methods in hope in self healing.

  8. P. Lipscomb

    Thanks for these helpful time on eating for a healthy liver. I stopped eating meat about 4 months ago and still looking for healthy alternatives to remain healthy. I also discovered that people who do not eat meat tend to be deficient in vitamin B12, so I have noticed that the muscles in my legs a getting smaller. Do you have any suggestions to help retain muscle mass?

  9. Anne Matthes

    Thank you for the information. I was diagnosed at 37 with cirrhosis. I’m still trying to figure out how I got it so quickly. I only drank for about 10 years, the last 5 of those heavily with many “attempts” to quit that never lasted more than a month or two. Did you need a transplant? If not, how long has the diet been working? Do you take any additional meds or supplements?

  10. om hota

    Are sure you were taking 2 mg of sodium ? or it is salt ? because one good pinch of salt= 1 gram = 400 mg sodium

  11. Megan Treppendahl

    Hi! I am in awww of your story! SO amazing! I am currently building an online platform for people to share their stories of healing from chronic or “incurable” diseases. I was wondering if I can share yours, as I believe it will help so so many. My website is, check it out if you would like. I will certainly point people back to this site.

  12. Anonymous

    Hi. My mom has stage 4 cirrhosis. And I’m scared. I have no idea what 50g of something and my sister doesn’t either. Will you please give me some easy, not expensive options that we can cook for her? We’ve never cooked in our lives ( we’re regrettjng this because we don’t want to end up hurting our mom by the foods we give her) and we just want to make sure our mom can live long. She’s old and has diabetes and we’re just so confused and scared. Please help?

  13. Cindy

    I also have cirrhosis, im 3 or 4 stage,not sure yet,cause of my brusis, im no 9 meds,just having a hard time 4 doing my lab work, also dont known what or how 2 cook the right way .Im not al that savy on computers, so I am sending you my number 3252120551 from TX.Thank You

  14. Julia

    Hi Ian, thank you for your testimonial I was told I have all the classic signs and symptoms if non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis. I’m struggling with keeping my sodium so low. Did you have any favorite sauces that are that low. I try to make my own from tofu, apple cider vinegar and salt, but it does not taste very good without the salt. Any suggestions?

  15. Marie Lane

    I was just diagnosed with first stage cirroscis of my liver. I read what you eat and I can’t eat most of what you had listed. I don’t know what to do!

  16. Carol

    I just had a liver ultrasound and am suspected to have cirrhosis of the liver and I’m being sent to a specialist, I quit the month of October then somehow after that going back to drinking I understand the hospitality business I work in a lounge I’m 47 I don’t want to die! The same as you said to stop the shaking I have a drink before work. I need a list of foods, etc. to beat this please and anything that helps so quitting should I taper down or just stop period.?

  17. Carol Lewis

    I just had a liver ultrasound and am suspected to have cirrhosis of the liver and I’m being sent to a specialist, I quit the month of October then somehow after that going back to drinking I understand the hospitality business I work in a lounge I’m 47 I don’t want to die! The same as you said to stop the shaking I have a drink before work. I need a list of foods, etc. to beat this please and anything that helps so quitting should I taper down or just stop period.?

  18. Patty

    Thank you as I was just told my fatty liver is now cirrhosis of the liver so I need to change my life and
    I want to thank you for ideas .Patty

  19. Ruby

    My dad,53 year old is suffering from liver cirrhosis. In this year April he went to coma and was treated in ICU. That time he had hepatic encephalopathy. We continued medicines from general physician for over 6 months. Then we thought of showing to gastro enterologist Last month reports showed that his is class B and MELD score was 8. After 20 days we went again for blood tests, now they are telling remaining healthy liver cells are also getting failed. He is on less sodium diet. They are giving lactulose and lacilactone medicines.His legs and abdomen are filled with fluid. Doctors didn’t give hope of his survival. They said anything can happen anytime.I want my dad to be with me. Can miracle happen? What doctors say always becomes true? Please share your thoughts on this.

  20. Samina

    I hv a question about the 2g of sodium. How do you determine that you r hv 2g of sodium per day or I should put this way how do you divide and measure between all meals thought out the day.

  21. Vickie Gatley

    So pleased hat you are doing well. God has blessed you!
    My journey began a couple of months ago with my legs swelling, then my abdomen getting so tight it hurts to move.
    Blood tests showed antibodies for HepC and B… though I have never been sick with either, but evidently exposed.
    Iv’e had 2 ultrasounds and 1 CT scan which showed scarring on my liver but they said they couldn’t tell how much…said that would be the Gastro doctort o determine.
    My appointment is this Tuesday. Hope he has some answers for me.
    Questions for you:
    Wouldn’t a biopsy tell you more about whats going on< why didn't you have one?
    Did you have abdominal swelling of fluids and how did you remedy that?
    Do you take any supplements and eat liver?
    Thank you for your kind response!
    God bless you for your encouraging words to those of us beginning this road.

  22. Vickie Gatley

    Is there a reason you haven’t had a biopsy? Wouldn’t that let you know for sure how things are going?
    I have just in the last month had abdominal bloating as well as edema in legs. So uncomfortable.
    I’ve had 2 ultrasounds and 1 CT which showed liver cirrhosis, though they can’t seem to tell how much. Blood tests showed antibodies for hep C an B though I have never been sick with it…but evidently exposed!
    I see the Gastroenterologist this Tuesday for first time. Hope he can give me some answers and get this swelling in my body down. Did your abdomen fill with fluids, and how did you get it down if it did?
    Glad you are doing well and hope you continue to.

    God bless you efforts!

    1. ianjw

      Cirrhosis/end-stage liver disease is my official diagnosis on all my charts but I have thankfully not had the biopsy yet. My doctor estimates my liver function at around 15% judging by swelling and scarring seen in my quarterly ultrasounds.
      Now that I’m 33 I can certainly tell I’m not 20 anymore but I suspect that’s just normal aging. No doubt I’m going to age a bit quicker than I would had I not put myself through hell, but beyond a backache after work I’m holding up just fine.
      I will give the credit to God 100% for all I have. I’d even go so far as to say that the my spirit as it is today is worth what I’ve been through. I feel like I am working towards the best version of myself and a lot of the time, that isn’t necessarily the prettiest one.
      Thanks for the question and stay in touch amigo.


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