If you want to minimize your risk of liver disease, you have come to the right place. The liver is essential for the normal functioning of your body and should be cared for accordingly. All the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver. The liver processes this blood and breaks down, balances, and creates the nutrients and also metabolizes drugs into forms that are easier to use for the rest of the body or that are nontoxic.
Here are seven ways you can improve your liver health, to reduce the risk of liver disease or liver failure.
Eat a Balanced Diet
What you feed into your body is what is fueling it, so you want to make sure only the best foods and drinks go in. You should avoid eating meals that are high in sugars, refined carbohydrates (white bread for example), and saturated fats. These can all damage your liver and other organs when consumed in excess over a period of time.
To improve your diet and eat a more balanced diet, consume fiber, protein, good fats, and complex carbohydrates. A great way to start eating more healthily is to increase your intake of vegetables and fruit as they contain many minerals, vitamins and fiber essential to the body. As well as a balanced diet, plenty of water is important for flushing out the system, keeping hydrated and aiding with digestion.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
One of the fastest growing forms of liver diseases is called fatty liver. The risk of getting this is increased when you are overweight, as you have more fat in your body than it needs. Weight loss can improve your liver health and aid all your organs in working better.
When you lose weight, you lose it in more places than you realize, including your liver. If you need help maintaining a healthy weight, speak to your doctor, trainer or dietician who will be able to give you dietary and exercise advice. Exercising regularly is a great way to lose weight, but you must also be eating correctly.
Avoid or Minimize Alcohol Use
Alcohol is the cause of many health problems, including cancer and liver disease. If you want a healthy liver, cutting out or cutting down on the amount of alcohol you consume is key. Too much alcohol can scar your liver or cause damage to your liver cells. Depending on your other health conditions, alcohol could be putting you at risk of liver problems, especially if you take other medications.
Be aware of your alcohol intake and the measurements that are recommended for you in a week. If you can, cutting out alcohol altogether has a range of health benefits.
Smoking is another habit that can cause plenty of health problems. Smoking can increase the risk of developing liver cancer, as well as cirrhosis of the liver. This is down to the toxic chemicals that are contained in tobacco smoke. In your body, these can cause your liver to become inflamed, which will eventually lead to long-term scarring (liver cirrhosis). If you also have Hepatitis B or C and smoke, you are at a higher risk of developing liver cancer.
Avoid Drug Use
Most drugs pass through your liver, which is where drug metabolism first occurs. If you take drugs that are unlicensed, such as marijuana, cocaine, or MDMA, you could be causing damage to your liver. Drugs can have many negative effects and could cause damage to your liver cells or block bile from leaving your liver, or both. When you mix this with other substances such as alcohol, your liver is forced to go into overdrive to metabolize everything that is coming in. Overworking the liver increases your risk of liver disease.
If you take drugs that involve using needles, you should also be aware of your risk of catching Hepatitis C. This disease can cause inflammation of your liver, which will eventually cause scarring. This can lead to liver cancer, as well as other cancers. If you do take drugs, use clean needles, and speak to a healthcare professional about vaccinations against Hepatitis A and B, and for help with quitting.
Always Follow Directions on Medications
Your liver is responsible for breaking down and metabolizing all prescription or over the counter medications that you take. Some medications can increase the risk of damage to your liver and should only be taken if you do not have liver disease. This is why it is important to always follow directions on your medication packets.
If you take too much, mix medications that shouldn’t be mixed, or you take the wrong medication, your liver could pay the price. If your medication states not to drink alcohol while taking it, do not drink alcohol. This could overwork your liver. Always speak to your doctor if you take anything else or you believe you have taken too much.
Cut Down on Soda
Research has found that people who drink soft drinks such as soda are more likely to get fatty liver. Sodas are often full of sugars, which is also linked to obesity. The more overweight you are, the more chances of things going wrong with your liver. Early research has found that people who drink two sugary drinks a day, for six months, showed signs of fatty liver. If you want a healthier liver, stick to water.
When to Seek Medical Care
If you are worried about your liver, seeking medical care is essential to a diagnosis. Early intervention is always best and can improve your chances of recovery. You should look out for common symptoms of liver problems, such as fatigue, jaundice, changes in sex drive, and passing blood in your stools. Not all liver problems have symptoms though.
Fatty liver, which is also known as NAFLD (non-alcohol fatty liver disease), usually has no symptoms. This means getting checked regularly will reduce the chances of fatty liver and give you the chance to reverse it. Ezra has more information on how to reverse a fatty liver and offers full-body MRI scans. These can help to catch abnormalities, such as fatty liver, giving patients the chance to improve their prognosis.
Your liver is an essential organ to maintain a healthy body. As well as eating a balanced diet and exercising, you should consider quitting alcohol and smoking. If you are worried about your liver, speak to your doctor.