Understanding Liver Disease

Approximately 15,000 children in the U.S. are hospitalized yearly due to a form of pediatric liver disease or disorder.

Within those alarming numbers, 10% of all children in the nation (6 million children) have NAFLD – the Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, the leading cause of chronic liver disease in both children and adults in the United States.

Why is the liver important?

The liver is the second largest organ in your body and is located under your rib cage on the right side. It weighs about three pounds and is shaped like a football that is flat on one side. The liver performs many jobs in your body. It processes what you eat and drink into energy and nutrients your body can use. The liver also removes harmful substances from your blood.

How does a healthy diet help the liver?

Eating a healthy diet helps the liver to do its functions well and to do them for a long time. Eating an unhealthy diet can lead to liver disease. For example, a person who eats a lot of fatty foods is at higher risk of being overweight and having non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. For people who have liver disease, eating a healthy diet makes it easier for the liver to do its jobs and can help repair some liver damage. An unhealthy diet can make the liver work very hard and can cause more damage to it.

What does a healthy diet include?

1. Eating foods from all the food groups: grains, proteins, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and fats.
2. Eating foods that have a lot of fiber such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, rice and cereals

Are there diet changes for those with liver disease? It is important for people with liver disease to maintain a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet with foods from all food groups. Also,

1. Do not eat uncooked shellfish such as oysters and clams
2. Limit eating foods that have a lot of sugar or salt
3. Limit eating fatty foods