We often tend to undermine how important an organ our liver is. It is responsible for filtering the blood of the body and removing toxins, fats, carbs, sugar etc. from whatever food goes inside our bodies. In fact, it is the largest internal organ of the body. Performing important functions like digestion, metabolism, acting as a storehouse for nutrients, basically working round the clock, your liver needs an adequate amount of care, to function optimally, digest food and get rid of harmful toxins.
Want a healthy liver? Follow these tips:
The good habits:
1. Live an active lifestyle:
Brisk walking, swimming, jogging, taking up any sport etc. helps keep the liver young and healthy. It decreases the stress on the liver, and also prevents obesity, which can affect the liver adversely. When you get in the habit of exercising, it burns triglycerides for fuel, thereby reducing liver fat and letting it perform at its best.
2. Watch you sugar intake:
Eating too much sugary food, can lead to the body developing insulin resistance, and causing abnormally high blood sugar levels for diabetes. Sugar has a direct impact on the liver. Avoid sugar in the form of fructose, artificial sweeteners etc. to satisfy the sugar craving, instead choose natural sweeteners in the form of fruits, coconut, or go for sugarcane juice that is both healthy and provides energy too.
3. Get vaccinated:
Hepatitis A and B, are both viral liver infections that can be prevented with proper vaccinations. While hepatitis A can be caused due to contaminated seafood, polluted water, stale food etc. Hepatitis B can be due to unsafe sex, contaminated blood or needles etc. One must get themselves vaccinated against these, to avoid adverse effects on the functioning of the liver.
4. Get rid of that extra fat:
Non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a consequence of not keeping the body weight in control and being obese. It is also referred to as the silent epidemic, caused by extra fat building up in the liver, this can be the cause of non alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which if not taken seriously can lead to liver damage or in some extreme cases liver cancer as well.
The Bad ones:
1. Not regularly checking on liver health:
While exercising and a balanced diet can go a long way in keeping the liver healthy, it is important to know how well your liver is functioning. Schedule regular tests as advised by a doctor to check liver function.
2. Indulge in excessive drinking:
Occasional drinking or drinking in moderation is fine, for example, men should limit themselves to 2 drinks while women to 1 glass of drink per day only. It’s best if consumed alongside food as compared to drinking alone or on an empty stomach. Because when we consume alcoholic beverages, it gets converted to acetaldehyde, a chemical that is structurally similar to formaldehyde. This can lead to liver inflammation or even permanent damage to liver cells.
3. Ignoring hydration:
Drinking enough water cannot be stressed enough. It is good not only for the liver but also for the well functioning of the whole body. Taking sufficient fluids helps flush the toxins and waste out of the body. In a well hydrated system, blood is thin comparatively, which makes it easy for the liver to filter the blood for removing waste. It is recommended to drink lots of water especially during the day, so that the liver does not have to overdo itself at night, and can also relax while you sleep!
4. Putting extra salt in food:
Too much consumption of salt can lead to an increase in blood pressure in the main artery of the liver. In today’s lifestyle, we just want to go for fast foods, processed foods or packed/ readymade food items which contain a lot of salt; their intake should be limited. For better food taste, one can go for different herbs and spices, and reduce salt intake, as it also affects weight loss.
One should visit a doctor, to find out the right cause and severity of liver damage or for regular health checkups for the liver as well. Your doctor would suggest going for blood tests for knowing any genetic relation or liver problems or the liver function tests to check for any particular liver related disease; a liver biopsy if needed, to look out for signs of liver damage or even imaging tests like a CT scan or MRI.
There are a lot of other factors that can affect the liver, such as getting a good night’s sleep, avoiding smoking, consuming less fast food, being careful if taking painkillers or other drugs, as they can also significantly cause damage to the liver etc. Implementing the good habits and gradually getting rid of the bad ones, can prove beneficial for the liver, considering the vital functions it performs, it is essential we take proper care of it, especially considering our stressful and busy lives.