For someone who practices all the basic tenets of healthy living, their liver will rarely create a problem. The liver is probably the most resilient internal organ in your body, and it can take plenty of abuse and still go on doing its job efficiently. However, when it stops perform at its optimal level or starts malfunctioning, you should know that something is wrong.
While every organ in your body requires an equal amount of care and attention, your liver may demand a tad more consideration. The first step to protecting your body against years of damage and poor lifestyle is to educate yourself about your liver.
There are solid reasons why the liver deserves more of your attention. It is a very hard working organ in your body and performs a multitude of functions, from processing your food and drinks to keeping your insides clean by eliminating waste from the body. Remember its root word ‘live’, and that should say it all.
Here are six important things you need to know about your liver.
Nourish Your Liver with a Good Diet
The key to a healthy body is eating a well-balanced diet and all the healthy foods that promote gut strength. Your liver’s main job is to process all your foods and liquids and convert them into energy storehouses.
However, a bad diet of junk food and alcohol consumption puts extra pressure on your liver that can damage its ability to function properly over time. A healthy diet, however, not only keeps your liver functioning appropriately but also maintains its overall health.
According to the American Liver Foundation, eating balanced meals comprising whole foods, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats should make up your regular diet. You should eat more fiber including fruits and veggies, rice, cereals, and unprocessed whole grain bread. Experts also recommend that one should never underestimate the importance of eating healthy proteins.
You certainly do not want to drink soda and eat candy all the time. This type of food or drinks does nothing for you. Soda, in particular, is just terrible for you and this certainly includes a can of Coke. Coke is horrendous, and it is terrible for your teeth. One soda a day is not a diet you want to be on. You probably do not even want to have more than one soda per week.
Protein is also helpful in healing damaged liver cells, thereby ensuring its optimum functioning. Some rich protein sources include lean meats, beans and legumes, lentils, and fat-free dairy products.
For your liver’s sake, it is important for you to avoid eating processed foods laced with trans fats. It is always better to opt for healthy fats that are readily found in olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, fish oil, flaxseed, and so on. Keep yourself well hydrated and avoid consumption of sugary and salty foods.
It is pertinent to note, however, that people suffering from a liver disease need to follow a different diet as recommended by their doctor. So, before you change your diet, be sure to consult your physician.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
A Healthy diet remains the key to keeping your liver functioning optimally. However, it is also vital to keep your weight in check by limiting the size of your portion and including exercise in your daily routine.
Many people these days overlook the dangerous effects of obesity. The reality is that excessive body weight can cause fatty liver disease that can eventually culminate into liver cirrhosis. This is especially true for individuals who are suffering from hepatitis C. More serious implications can be liver cancer or liver failure caused due to improper working of the liver.
If you fall into the obese category, then you should set a target to lose weight in gradual phases. In any case, do not get entrapped by the lure of fad diets that promise quick results. They do more harm than good in the long run. Losing too much weight, too soon can also impact your liver, and in not a good way!
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol intake, the leading cause of liver cirrhosis, should ideally be limited to one drink for women and two for men per day. For people who have been heavy drinkers at some point and have now cut down significantly, the damage is often not visible until years later. Tell your doctor if you have had a history of heavy drinking at some point in time in your life. Your doctor may want to test your liver for damage if any.
Some over the counter drugs, such as acetaminophen, a pain reliever, can cause liver damage when taken in too much quantity in too little time. It is recommended to not use any medication without a doctor’s prescription. According to the FDA, an adult should not take acetaminophen more than 4,000 mg/day.
Apart from controlling your alcohol intake, you can also take a few more lifestyle related precautions. While this may appear to be the least expected cause of liver damage, the fact is that you can prevent hepatitis B and C risk by avoiding body piercing and tattoos made with unsterilized needles. You should also avoid having unknown multiple sexual partners and must say away from IV drug abuse.
Alarm Signals for Your Liver
If you experience the following symptoms, it may be time to get your liver checked:
- Perpetual fatigue
- Lack of appetite
- Dark colored urine
- Nausea, vomiting or other gastrointestinal issues
When you feel something is wrong, the first recommended test is a liver function test that can diagnose whether your gut is oozing unusual levels of enzymes. This is the first sign of liver damage. However, a normal liver function test is no guarantee that your liver is functioning optimally, especially if you have already faced liver damage red flags in the past.Related: 11 Liver Damage Signs You Can’t Ignore
At the same time, poor LFT results don’t always mean that your liver is damaged for sure. Sometimes temporary conditions such as pregnancy or an infection can impact the test results. The doctors will always rely on blood tests, medical history, ultrasound, and MRI and CT scans to get a clearer picture.
Importance of Hepatitis C Test
According to the CDC, hepatitis C cases have almost tripled in the last five years, raising concerns about overall health. That being said, it is always better to know if you are exposed to the risk of hepatitis C, especially since more and more people seem to be affected by it.
Hepatitis C is an infectious liver disease that can spread if one comes in contact with someone who is infected with the virus. The numbers shared by CDC reveal a grim picture with 3.9 million reported cases of hepatitis C, elevating its status to a chronic illness. 75-85% people who have been contaminated by hepatitis C will develop other terminal infections.
Some factors that increase the risk of hepatitis C include:
- Intravenous and/or intranasal drug abuse
- A blood transfusion received before 1992
- Blood clotting treatment received before 1987
- Hemodialysis treatment for a long time
Falling in one of these groups means that your doctor will recommend a blood test to check for the virus. Doctors also recommend people born between 1945 and 1965 should get themselves tested at least once.
There are different types of liver diseases, from hepatitis C to Wilson’s disease (which is a genetic disorder) to cirrhosis, which may occur due to various causes.
All of these disorders, if detected in time, can be treated properly. Sometimes solutions such as weight loss, medication, and simple lifestyle changes are enough to fix the problem. The good news is that all the viral hepatitis conditions are treatable. Because the treatment is readily available, people can successfully eliminate the virus from their system through proper treatment.Related: 6 Ways You’re Hurting Your Liver That Aren’t Drinking
Remember that your liver is not only one of the most vital organs in your body, but also the most resilient. Even it is sick or partially damaged; it has the amazing ability to bounce back to good health with correct medical treatment, surgery, and lifestyle changes.