When it comes to organs, your liver is one of the body’s most important. Everything you eat is filtered through the liver, so it sees its fair share of nastiness, and it makes sure that the other cells in the body don’t suffer from the more harmful things that you ingest. Along with the kidneys, the liver does a good job of filtering out harmful substances in the body. Generally, when the liver’s detoxifying properties are mentioned, it is alcohol that comes to mind, and for good reason, considering how much damage alcohol can do to the body when consumed in excess.
However, alcohol is not the only substance that can cause harm to the body; not even close. There are plenty of other things that we ingest regularly that can serious impact the health of our bodies, and therefore the health of the liver as it tries to defend us from these threats. In order to take care of the liver, it’s critical that we do not overtax it with harmful substances. Here are a number of other things you should consider regarding liver health. It goes without saying that protecting your organs will help improve your overall health too.
6. Processed Foods
These days, processed foods make up a large part of people’s diets, especially in the Western world. This is because of the convenience that processed foods provide at every level. Usually cheap and easy to prepare, processed foods are widely available, and are often much more affordable than healthier options. Unfortunately, such foods often contain harmful chemicals, leftovers from the processes used to prepare them. If not toxic chemicals, sometimes processed foods simply include extra fat and salt, which leads to conditions like heart disease due to increased cholesterol and blood pressure. They may also contribute to fatty liver disease.
5. Skipping Exercise
It can be difficult to find the motivation to exercise. Because of other obligations taking up time and energy, it’s very easy to put off starting an exercise regimen or carving time out during the day. However, exercise is one of the best ways to contribute to overall health, as regular exercise lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and body fat. Exercise has other benefits too. It helps maintain functional strength and stamina, and protects your mental and emotional health. Exercise helps the organs function more efficiently because the resources we take in are being put to better use.
4. Excess Weight
This one goes hand in hand with getting more exercise. After all, exercise can contribute to weight loss. More specifically, exercise can contribute to the loss of body fat; if you’re building muscle, you’ll get heavier, but it will be healthier weight. One of the largest factors in terms of serious illness is obesity. Extra body weight can put a strain on the body’s system, partially due to chronic inflammation. This creates an environment hospitable to various illnesses, such as fatty liver disease. Specifically, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, an excessive buildup of fat in the liver leading to inflammation, may develop.
Aches and pains are common and occur for a variety of reasons, so it makes sense that we would have access to so many painkillers to deal with our aches. However, taking too many painkillers can cause problems more serious than the pain they help to reduce. Just like everything else you eat, painkillers must be processed by the liver. Over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) can cause serious damage to the liver, especially when taken in conjunction with alcohol (which is why there are warning labels not to mix the two). Limit painkillers, and avoid them if you’re drinking.
2. Weight Loss Supplements
Reading the previous points about getting more exercise and losing weight, you might be feeling overwhelmed. If you’re having trouble controlling what you eat and finding time to exercise, you might be tempted to turn to weight loss supplements to help take some of the load off, literally and figuratively. However, these can also interfere with proper liver function; in fact, some studies have found that even “natural” supplements can contribute to liver toxicity, and may not be terribly effective to begin with. Ultimately, you’re better off finding an exercise regimen that works for you and sticking to it.
1. Prescription Medications
As you might have guessed by now, if over-the-counter medications and weight loss supplements can prove harmful, prescription medications can also cause problems for the organs if taken incorrectly. The liver may be damaged trying to process too much of these medications at once, whether it is an overdose or a combination of different medications. Some ingredients found in medicines, such as sodium valproate, can prove toxic to the liver. To protect your health, talk to your doctor about finding healthier ways to control any chronic conditions so that you can reduce your dosage of potentially harmful medications.
As mentioned earlier, your liver health is connected to your overall health. Without the liver and all the parts of the body working together, we could not survive. As such, it’s critical that we take care of our organs. In the case of the liver, this means there are things we need to do less of, such as taking large amounts of certain medications, whether they are prescribed or over-the-counter. Likewise, stay away from weight loss supplements. They won’t provide the support you need (you’ll still have to exercise), and in using such products, you are potentially poisoning your body.
At the same time, there are things we should do more of. Drinking more water, for example, helps the digestive system as a whole. It certainly helps with the filtering of the body, as both the kidneys and the liver need significant levels of water to function. Furthermore, we should eat diets filled with fruits and vegetables to get all of the nutrients we need, with less processed additives such as extra salt and fat. Likewise, we should exercise more to put those nutrients to good use and to burn off some fat our bodies have already stored