The liver is a workhorse of the body that is often taken for granted. It performs almost 500 functions, which includes the primary work of filtering blood coming from the digestive tract before it travels to the rest of the body and producing necessary proteins for blood clotting. It detoxifies chemicals, metabolizes medications, breaks down hormones and secretes the bile that helps in the digestion of lipids in the small intestine. In short, the liver is an incredibly vital organ.
To keep the body’s regulatory, detoxification and metabolic functions in optimal condition, it’s necessary to keep your liver healthy and free from complications. Fortunately, most liver problems are reversible or treatable if discovered early. Check out tips from our health experts on how to keep your liver healthy.
Cut down smoking
Smoking essentially spoils the entire body as it releases over 7,000 or so carcinogens which circulates the entire body, beginning in your esophagus and winding up in distant locations you wouldn’t give a second thought to.
As for the liver, cigarettes are extremely harmful to the liver processes as it produces chemicals that damage the liver cells and impair its processes. Read the entire research study here.
There are also studies that link cigarette smoking with the development of liver cancer. Apart from this, smoking is known to alleviate the toxic properties of some medications (such as paracetamol) on the liver and reverse the effects of medicines.
Limit your alcohol intake
Our liver can only process or break down a small amount of alcohol every hour. Beyond this, it can damage the liver cells and lead to inflammation and scarring (cirrhosis). It can cause the alcoholic liver disease which causes oxidative stress and toxins in the gut area.
For this reason, men should limit their alcohol intake two standard drinks a day while women should only have one.
Regular exercise is key to a healthy liver. Exercise decreases stress on the liver, increases energy levels and helps to prevent obesity – a risk factor for liver disease. Exercises like walking, swimming, weight training etc can help you maintain a healthy weight which is essential for optimal liver function. Aim for a total of 150 minutes of exercise, such as brisk walking or swimming per week
How much you exercise, the types of exercises you do, and how well you take care of yourself are all keys to having a healthy liver and healthy life.
Have a balanced diet
High levels of fat in the blood and high levels of cholesterol are common causes of fatty liver disease. Reduce the intake of saturated fats, transfats and hydrogenated fats in your diet.
Deep fried foods, red meats and dairy products have saturated fats while trans and hydrogenated fats are found in processed foods. Choose high-fibre foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains or proteins such as fish, white meat, beans and nuts.
Get vaccinated against viral liver infections
Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, both viral liver infections. Hepatitis A is contracted from contaminated food and water. It is better to avoid raw or contaminated seafood or shellfish.
Hepatitis B, on the other hand, can be contracted through sexual contact, contaminated blood, and needles. It is advisable to practice safe sex and avoid unnecessary sharing of toothbrushes, razors, needles and other personal care items –as these can also transmit hepatitis B or C. If you are a Hepatitis B or C carrier, consult your doctor for a screening program to detect problems early.Also, take an immediate screening test if your parents are a carrier and/or you are not sure of whether you have or not.
Be careful of weight loss pills or fad diets
Over-the-counter weight loss pills which are available without a prescription may contain toxins and ingredients which can be harmful to the liver. Second an opinion with your doctor on the side effects before taking medication for weight loss.
As for the diets, fad diets that makes your weight fluctuate aggressively cause excessive stress on your liver. Avoid any diet that promises large amounts of weight loss in an unrealistically short period. These diets are usually lacking in essential nutrients and are not beneficial but harmful to your liver. If you are looking for an effective way to lose weight, it’s advisable to ask your doctor or dietitian to help you create a healthy diet.
If you may notice, a lot of health problems can be avoided by simple modifications in your lifestyle. It is especially true in the case of liver. Adopt these practices in your everyday routine and experience the difference it brings to your body.
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