One of the hardest working organs in your body is your liver. Yet, most people don’t know how important the liver is to their overall health.
Most people tend to think of their liver in relation to drinking alcohol, and this is certainly a serious issue that needs to be addressed. The New York Times reports that between 2009 and 2016 there was a 10.5% increase in “cirrhosis-related mortality among people ages 25 to 34.”
Alongside processing alcohol there’s also so much more going on with the liver and its relation to overall health. Purely curbing alcohol consumption may not be enough to properly take care of your liver. So, in this article, we’ll dive deeper into what the liver does and how you can support yours.
Your liver is a powerhouse. From processing the nutrients from your food and removing toxins in your blood to building proteins and making bile for breaking down fats, it’s as vital as your heart. It also aids in blood clotting, a bastion of your immune response, and stores sugar and fat for energy.
“People forget that everything you breathe, drink, and eat gets processed by the liver,” notes Dr. Sujit Janardhan of the American Liver Foundation. It also stores carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals important to your bodily functions. These include vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12. A healthy liver is also associated with healthy skin and an optimal metabolism.
Poor liver health
With a fairly complex organ also comes a wide range of diseases that can lead it to malfunction or even fail. While cirrhosis is the most prevalent, fatty liver disease and hepatitis are also common. The crux of the matter is that liver diseases are hard to spot. As they’re asymptomatic, they can only be noticed when screened. That’s why taking care of your liver should be a lifestyle goal.
Taking care of your liver
While there are many marketed “liver cleansing” products and regimens, almost all of them aren’t FDA approved, and may not have an impact at all. Supporting your liver is best done through simple lifestyle choices you start today.
Eat well. Your liver health largely depends on your diet. Excessive fat in your diet can cause fatty liver disease, so limiting trans fat and unhealthy fat sources is the best way to care of your liver. Also eat food that is rich in antioxidants like berries, milk and nuts. Our contributor Jessica Scott identifies blackberries as a superfood due their high content of antioxidants.
Watch your meds. Some prescription drugs can interact negatively with your body, which is why contraindications are mandated on the labels. Most of these effects are directed at your liver and can put pressure on its functions. “The liver is like a factory and a factory can only take in so much material at one time,” explains Dr. Shera Raisen in Parsley Health’s guide to naturally cleansing your liver. With this in mind, make sure to take precautions when taking medication, and check with your doctor if you feel that your medications are putting too much pressure on your liver.
Avoid non-medical drugs. While you should limit your alcohol intake, you should avoid recreational and non-prescribed drugs altogether. Most of the toxins and inorganic compounds in common drugs end up in the liver. It’s also important to note that Hepatitis C can be contracted sexually, so safe sex practices is also a part of liver hygiene.