Liver is our body’s second largest organ, and it has about 500 important jobs to perform. It regulates cholesterol levels, builds protein and forms bile, which helps our body to absorb fat, store sugar when needed, and regulate hormone levels.
Our liver health may not be our number one priority, but once it stops working, we don’t have much to think about. Cirrhosis, in which liver cells are replaced by scar tissue, can prevent our liver from doing its vital job. The same goes for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a disease that spreads rapidly in obese people and can lead to cirrhosis.
One of the best ways to fight liver diseases is to simply avoid having those as much as possible. The liver has an extraordinary regenerative capacity. However, it slows down with age, so it’s very important to take care of our liver. Here are 10 ways to keep your liver healthy.
1. Limit your alcohol intake and drink alcohol in moderation
Our liver can only process or break down a small amount of alcohol every hour. In addition, it can damage liver cells and cause inflammation and scarring (cirrhosis).
2. Exercise regularly and maintain an active lifestyle
Regular exercise is the key to a healthy liver. Exercise can reduce the pressure on the liver, increase energy levels, and help prevent obesity, a risk factor for liver disease. The goal is to do a total of 150 minutes of exercise per week, such as brisk walking or swimming.
3. Maintain a balanced and healthy diet: low-fat foods and more fiber
High levels of fat (hyperlipidemia) and high levels of cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) in the blood are common causes of fatty liver.
4. Reduce the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, and hydrogenated fat in your diet.
Saturated fats are found in fried foods, red meat and dairy products. Processed foods contain trans fats and hydrogenated fats. The liver stores too much dietary fat, and the accumulation of fat will eventually lead to fatty liver.
Eat more high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. For protein, choose more fish, white meat, beans and nuts, and reduce red meat.
5. Pay attention to your weight
Obesity, especially abdominal or central obesity, is the main risk factor for fatty liver. Combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise, you can achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Aim for your ideal body mass index (BMI) goal.
Get hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines, two viral liver infections. Hepatitis A is caused by contaminated food and water-avoid raw or contaminated seafood or shellfish. Hepatitis B can be infected through sexual contact, contaminated blood, and needles. If you choose not to get the hepatitis B vaccine, please practice safe sex. Discuss these vaccinations with your family doctor.
7. Be careful with traditional medicine and remedies
Some of these over-the-counter traditional medicines or treatments contain heavy metals or unknown toxins. They can cause liver toxicity, or they can create stress and affect the normal function of the liver.
Excessive supplementation of traditional medicines may cause liver inflammation, and may lead to irreversible liver damage or even failure. If in doubt, consult your liver specialist before consumption.
8. Be careful with weight loss pills or fashion diets
Over-the-counter weight loss drugs that are available without a prescription may contain toxins and ingredients harmful to the liver, such as:
Ephedra, kombucha, pennyroyal, scutellaria, cascara, chaparral, comfrey, and kava.
9. Be careful and protect yourself from hepatitis B or C, diabetes, high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol
Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol form metabolic syndrome with obesity, which is the main risk of fatty liver.
10. Reduce or quit smoking
There are some studies linking smoking with the development of liver cancer. Smoking can also enhance the toxic effects of certain drugs (such as paracetamol) on the liver.