How to keep your liver happy

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most prevalent liver disease in the country, affecting 40 per cent of Aussies over the age of 50. With your liver potentially being at risk of NAFLD, liver cancer, alcoholic liver disease, hepatitis A, B and C, haemochromatosis, and chronic cholestatic liver diseases, it’s important to take care of it.

Your liver filters blood from the digestive tract and releases it to the rest of the body. It produces bile used in the intestines, detoxifies chemicals, makes proteins used in blood clotting and metabolises drugs, so it’s fair to say your liver is the type of organ you want to keep happy. 

Here are eight ways to take care of your liver and to keep it happy and healthy. 

Avoid alcohol
Being one of the more commonly known causes of liver damage, alcohol consumption can scar the liver and destroy its cells. According to the Mayo Clinic, ‘moderate’ alcohol consumption is one drink a day for all women and men over 65 and up to two glasses for men below 65. However, this may alter depending on other health factors, so we recommend speaking to your GP to find out how much is right for you.

Healthy weight
If you’re carrying even a little extra weight then chances say your liver is, too. Having a fatty liver puts you in danger of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Eat right
Try to avoid saturated fats, high-calorie meals and refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice and white pasta.

According to health24.com, the liver is the only organ that can process fructose, a type of sugar, meaning that overtime, irreparable damage can be done by over-consumption of sources such as sweets, baked treats, soft drinks and other refined sugars. Instead, stick to sources such as fruit as a healthy alternative.

Try to fill your diet with fibre, found in fruit and vegetables, as well as wholegrain breads, rice and cereals. Healthy fats found in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils are also part of a well-rounded and healthy diet. 

Exercise
According to liverfoundation.org, regular exercise burns triglycerides, which can help to reduce liver fat, decreasing your risk of liver-related health concerns.

Avoid toxins
There’s an array of toxins found in cleaning products, insecticides, aerosols and additives in cigarettes that cause harm to your liver. Avoid touching these as much as possible, always wear a mask and ventilate the room when handling them, and don’t smoke.

Practice safe sex
While most of us like to think we’ve got the whole safe-sex thing down pat by now, you may be surprised that, according to the ABC, the rate of STIs among the over-50s doubled in Queensland between 2013 and 2018. Hepatitis B and C can be contracted through unprotected sex.

Get vaccinated
Hep B (HBV) and C (HCV) can cause inflammation and scarring to the liver and hepatitis A (HAV) can cause patients to suffer liver failure. Fortunately, there are vaccines for both hepatitis A and B, although no vaccine for hepatitis C currently exists. We recommend maintaining personal hygiene, washing hands and not sharing personal hygiene items in order to prevent HAV contraction.

Drink water
Staying hydrated keeps your liver happy and allows it to function at full capacity, as drinking sufficient amounts of water removes toxins that would otherwise build up and harm your liver.  

Are you taking care of your liver? Do you suffer or fear a risk of liver disease or liver-related illnesses?

Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Written by Liv Gardiner

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