Love your liver
Lifestyle changes you can make to ensure a healthy liver
By Maripet L. Poso
Your liver is one of the most hard-working, resilient and low maintenance organs in your body. It has many big and complex functions in our system. Aside from processing, storing and converting nutrients absorbed by the intestines during digestion and controlling the amounts of protein, sugar and fat entering the bloodstream, the liver also helps in removing toxins from the blood as well as metabolising alcohol and drugs that we intake.
This vital organ, however, is prone to many diseases because of the various roles it plays in our metabolic system. Most often, it does not complain and does an excellent job even when it’s not well. Hence, we don’t normally know when something is wrong with it, until it’s too late.
Liver cancer, hepatitis and cirrhosis are just a few of the many liver diseases. Although there are many advanced treatments available nowadays, there is still no known cure for liver diseases. That’s why prevention is necessary to make sure that our liver is always in the pink of health. All it takes is a little bit of shift in our lifestyle and diet.
Eat your greens
Vegetables are fat free and rich in B-vitamin folic acid, which is good for treatment of symptoms of viral hepatitis. Vegetables also help to detoxify the liver and aid in the production of glucosinolates, sulfur compounds necessary in the detoxification process. The nutrients in vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli help protect the endocrine system, liver and other organ systems from diseases. A serving of these green vegetables a day ensures detoxifying benefits for your liver.
Cut back on alcohol
If you take one pint of whiskey a day for ten years, you are most likely to end up with cirrhosis of the liver. Because of long-term injury or diseases in the liver, mostly due to alcoholism, scar tissue forms and replaces healthy tissue, blocking the flow of the blood through the liver and decreasing its function in the process. This often leads to jaundice or even cancer of the liver. There are available treatments for cirrhosis, but the best way to prevent it is to avoid drinking alcohol.
Avoid fatty foods
Just like alcohol and drugs, fried and fatty foods are not your liver’s best friend. And just like alcohol, there’s only so much fatty food that your liver can digest before it says enough is enough. Drink fresh fruits, instead, to get those extra built-up fats in your liver to work.
Sweating helps your body eliminate toxins, helping the liver in the detoxification process. Researchers from University of Missouri found that a sudden change to a sedentary lifestyle may lead to hepatic steatosis or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which affects at least 75 percent of obese people.3 Find an exercise regimen that is both fun and convenient for you to do at least 30 minutes a day. Your liver and other pertinent organs in your body will thank you for it.
Practice safe sex
Viral hepatitis can be transmitted sexually. One way to prevent hepatitis, and any other sexually transmitted diseases for that matter, is to stay in a monogamous relationship. That, or practice safe sex.
Make sure that you are vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. Children and adults need two doses of hepatitis A vaccine for at least six months apart. Most vaccines protect adults for at least 25 years, and children for 14 to 20 years.
A study at University of Michigan Medical School in 1986 showed that even doses as low as 500mg a day of vitamin C have helped prevent fatty build-up and cirrhosis of the liver, while large doses of 5,000mg daily have been known to flush fats from the liver.1 Vitamin C is the most powerful antioxidant for the liver (and many other organs in our body). It helps cut down toxic damage to the liver cells from chemical overload and counteracts free radicals being produced during the detoxification process in the liver.
Prescription, over-the-counter or illegal drugs of any kind are not good for the liver. Most drug metabolism happens in the liver, transforming and clearing chemicals so it will not harm our body. This is usually tough on the liver and causes injury to it. Fifty percent of all acute liver failures are caused by drug-induced liver injury. So for your liver’s sake, stay away from taking any drugs as much as possible.
3. Ritter, M. “Study Says Vitamin C Could Cut Liver Damage.” Associated Press, Oct. 11, 1986.