10 Tips For A Healthy Liver
For many people, liver health isn’t really on their radar. With 100 million Americans estimated to have Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and rates of NAFLD doubling in children over the past 20 years according to the Liver Foundation, the condition needs to be on your mind.
About the size of a football, your liver filters everything you put into your body. Along with detoxifying your blood, the liver produces bile to help break down fat. It also produces, stores and releases glucose. The liver can usually take a lot of abuse before problems start to arise, but this also means serious damage can be done before you know your liver is in danger. Despite the liver’s resilience, you cannot live without one, which is why maintaining liver health is so important.
The earliest stage of liver disease is fatty liver. Although it is normal for the liver to contain some fat, you have a fatty liver when more than 5% to 10% of your liver weight is fat. It can be caused by excessive alcohol consumption or a wide range of conditions, such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, diabetes, Hepatitis C and others. There is no medical treatment available for fatty liver. However, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver are reversible with lifestyle changes.
Whether you have been diagnosed with fatty liver or you want to prevent it, here are 10 tips for keeping your liver in the best possible health.
1. Eat A Healthy Diet
Eat a nutritious, balanced, whole-foods diet. That means avoiding processed carbohydrates and sugars, and saturated fat and salt, as well as filling up on fresh fruit, vegetables, whole-grains, protein, dairy and healthy fats.
2. Avoid Weight Gain
Maintaining a healthy weight will help decrease your risk of developing fatty liver disease. A good rule of thumb is a body mass index in the normal range (18 to 25), but speak to your doctor for guidance on a healthy weight for your body type.
3. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise not only helps to keep you in shape, but it also burns triglycerides, which can reduce the amount of fat stored in liver cells.
4. Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
Watch how much you drink. The U.S. government guidelines recommend no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Although, recent global studies suggest there are no safe levels of alcohol consumption.
5. Be Careful With Medications
Some prescription medications (like statins or steroids) can cause liver damage, while over-the-counter medications (such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can also cause liver damage if you take too much or if you drink alcohol while taking them. Always read the warning labels, and speak with your pharmacist if you have concerns.
6. Hepatitis Prevention
Learn how to prevent hepatitis, and get vaccinated. If you think you may have come in contact with the virus, get tested. There are several types of viral hepatitis that can cause liver disease.
7. Drink Coffee
Research shows that drinking coffee reduces your risk of liver disease. The protective benefits increase with each cup for up to four cups daily, regardless of whether you drink regular or decaf.
8. Avoid Toxins
Limit direct contact with toxins, such as cleaning products, insecticides and chemicals. Wear gloves when handling toxins, and wear a mask or ensure that you are in a well-ventilated area.
9. Consider Supplements Cautiously
Some dietary supplements can harm your liver. Conversely, some supplements claim to help restore liver health. Always discuss usage of supplements with your doctor, especially if you are on prescription medication.
10. Get Regular Checkups
Prevention is the key when it comes to liver disease, so take advantage of annual wellness exams. A simple blood test is often the first step to identifying liver disease even before any symptoms develop.
To schedule an appointment with GastroIntestinal Specialists, A.M.C. or to learn more about other GI conditions treated by GastroIntestinal Specialists, call (318) 631-9121 or click here.