Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a disease of the liver in which the bile ducts slowly become destroyed. A fluid produced by the liver, bile aids in digestion and helps rid the body of worn-out red blood cells, cholesterol, and toxins.
When the bile ducts become destroyed, harmful substances start building up in the liver, contributing to irreversible scarring.
PBC is considered an autoimmune disease, as the body’s cells turn against its own tissues, causing the damage. As with many autoimmune diseases, the exact cause is unknown, but researchers believe it may be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Medical treatments for primary biliary cirrhosis include ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), liver transplant, or medications including immunosuppressant or antiviral medications. On the other hand, lifestyle changes can also work to help improve primary biliary cirrhosis.
First and foremost, it’s important that you avoid alcohol as it is a difficult substance for your liver to process, so it can contribute to further damage. You should also limit your sodium intake as it can result in a buildup of fluid leading to swelling and ascites.
Regular exercise is also beneficial, but it can help reduce your risk of bone loss, which is a complication of primary biliary cirrhosis. Furthermore, it can reduce weight and burn fat. Fat accumulation in the liver leads to further damage, so it’s important to maintain a healthy weight.
In order to better cope with primary biliary cirrhosis, you should first educate yourself about the condition, so you can understand what to expect and start on preventative measures to avoid complications.
Joining a support group and building relationships with others who understand what you are going through may also be beneficial. This can help you maintain a positive outlook, which can help push you through treatment.
Lastly, taking time for yourself and knowing when to ask for help can also help you better manage primary biliary cirrhosis. It is important that you do the things you enjoy and get adequate rest. You shouldn’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help from others when you need it. Spreading yourself too thin can worsen your condition. By having a strong support system, you can openly ask for assistance and work on improving your health.
Diet can play a large role in primary biliary cirrhosis treatment, because everything we take into our bodies eventually ends up in the liver. Eating foods that are difficult for the liver to process can cause further damage and weakening, speeding up progression of primary biliary cirrhosis.
Keep in mind that primary biliary cirrhosis can cause changes in eating habits, metabolism, and the absorption of nutrients. You will have to make appropriate diet changes to ensure you aren’t missing out on essential vitamins and minerals.
Working with a nutritionist can help you create a meal plan to follow in order to ensure you are getting proper nutrition. Even though you may experience loss of appetite it’s still important that you continue eating.
We already mentioned that reducing sodium, saturated fat, and alcohol is one of the dietary suggestions to follow with primary biliary cirrhosis. Your nutritionist will focus their recommendations around these principals.