Take Care Of Your Liver: 5 Ways To Show Your Liver Some Love
- From filtering your blood and removing toxins to breaking down food and storing essential vitamins, your liver performs over 500 different functions.
- Although it is the second largest organ in the human body, not many are aware of the best ways to improve liver function.
- Taking care of your liver includes eating a nutritious diet, lowering alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, consuming only appropriate medicines and supplements, and keeping a check on viral hepatitis.
We pay a lot of attention to our brain, heart, lungs, and gut health. But how much do we know about our liver health and the vital role it plays in ensuring our quality of life?
The liver is a very important internal organ that processes nearly everything we eat, drink, breathe in, or even rub on our skin! Hepatocytes, the cells of the liver, determine which nutrients should be processed by the body, which need to be stored, what needs to be eliminated, and what needs to reenter the bloodstream.
This way, the liver helps the body fight off infections and toxins, regulate hormones, manufacture proteins, control blood sugar, help the blood to clot, and much, much more. The liver also produces an important digestive juice called bile, which helps the digestion of fat from the food we eat.
While the liver does so much to help improve the health of the body, we too need to know how to maintain a healthy liver, the second largest organ in your body. Its importance is not just in its size, but also in the number of processes it undertakes to keep the wheels of your body running.
Hence, taking care of your liver to keep it healthy and happy in the long run is of utmost importance.
Why is taking care of your liver important?
Like the multi-talented member in a group project, your liver is in charge of metabolizing food, clearing toxins, building protein and so much more!
- Blood that flows from the stomach and intestines, passes through your liver. It is here that toxins, waste, and other harmful substances are removed from the bloodstream. This even includes alcohol, medication, and other drugs.
- It produces bile, which is crucial for the small intestine to break down fats and make digestion easy.
- It stores and releases essential minerals and vitamins like A, D, E, K, and B12
- It helps regulate and maintain blood clotting in the body, by absorbing and storing Vitamin K which is necessary for creating these coagulants.
- It produces good cholesterol and special proteins that aid in carrying certain fats through the body. It also produces albumin protein, which prevents blood vessels from leaking into surrounding tissues.
These are just 5 of the 500 functions that our liver performs. So, finding and implementing tips to improve liver health in your daily life is important to help this hard-working organ do its job.
5 ways to improve liver function
1. Incorporate liver-healthy foods
As your liver performs several functions in a day, it can use all the help it gets from nutrient-rich foods.
- Consuming black coffee helps reduce the build-up of fat and can slow down the progression of fatty liver disease.
- A similar effect can be seen if green tea drinkers, as it reduces liver enzymes. However, it is important to talk to your doctor about consuming coffee and tea if you have other health conditions.
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are next on the list. If you love your liver, diets that are rich in these veggies should be consumed as they contain fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients which help remove toxins. They also help the body produce the enzyme glutathione, which is a crucial part of the liver’s detoxification process.
- Berries like blueberries or strawberries supply the liver with antioxidants like anthocyanins and studies have shown that it helps reduce liver damage.
- Go nuts for almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and more when taking care of your liver. They are high in healthy fats and Vitamin C, which reduces the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Savor fatty fish like salmon, which is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, helps reduce inflammation in the liver.
2. Reduce alcohol consumption
The alcohol we consume has toxins that the liver works to flush out regularly. While the liver generally takes an our to break down these substances, consecutive drinks can increase this amount of time.
Regular consumption of excessive alcohol can impair the liver’s functioning due to fat buildup in the liver. As this is reversible, one of the best ways to improve liver function during this stage is to limit consumption.
If heavy drinking is prolonged, it can then damage cells and lead to inflammation, or cause scarring (cirrhosis), where the scarred tissue replaces healthy cells.
If you enjoy an occasional drink, remember that moderation is crucial. You can even talk to your doctor to understand what are the safe limits for you.
3. Get moving and exercise for liver health
A healthy liver can be achieved by a healthy body, and one of the key steps for this is to keep yourself physically active. Regular exercise can help burn triglycerides, a type of fat, that can cause fatty liver disease. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which would otherwise lead to the accumulation of excessive fat in the liver and inflammation.
Some of the best exercises for fatty liver are aerobic exercises as they increase blood flow to organs like the liver. This could include jogging, running, dancing, swimming, or cycling, and around 2 and a half hours of moderate exercise is recommended per week. Try to start small and then increase the amount you can do in a day or week.
Weightlifting and other resistance training exercises are also recommended as they help bring down the level of fat in your liver. A combination of both these exercises, for even 30 minutes a day, is greatly beneficial to your liver. But if you aren’t sure that these best exercises for the liver will work for you, talk to your doctor and a fitness expert to devise a tailor-made regimen.
4. Take supplements in moderation
Yes, supplements are often prescribed to help boost health, but too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Even OTC medicines or natural medicines taken without proper prescription may cause harm to your liver and other organs. Cascara, kava, and ephedra are a few that have previously shown negative effects.
Consuming dietary supplements that supply too much protein and iron, when your body already has adequate amounts, can put your liver under strain. They can also increase enzyme levels, which in turn cause inflammation.
If you want to know how to keep your liver healthy even when taking these supplements, there’s no one better than a medical professional to answer your queries.
5. Get tested for hepatitis A, B and C
One of the most common liver diseases is viral hepatitis, more commonly known as Hepatitis A, B, and C. Hepatitis A is generally caused by consuming water or food that is contaminated. Hepatitis B and C occur when body fluids from an infected individual pass to another through unprotected sex, from infected mother to baby at birth, or sharing contaminated needles, razors, syringes, etc.
One of the best tips to improve liver health, especially for baby boomers or those born between 1945 and 1964, is to get tested for the hepatitis virus. Some symptoms are nausea, poor appetite, belly pain, or yellow skin and eyes. But symptoms won’t always show so it is possible to feel completely fine even if you have the disease.
If you feel like you might be at risk for the same, get screened immediately as early resolve can help prevent liver damage or scarring. If possible, get vaccinated for Hepatitis B and C too.
6. Do not pop pills
Be careful with the medicines that you take frequently as all medicines get metabolized by the liver. Popping pills frequently can harm your liver in the long run. Commonly consumed drugs like cholesterol-lowering drugs (Statins) and Paracetamol can cause liver damage if consumed in excess.
Some OTC preparations or herbal supplements are also known to cause liver damage or even failure when taken in large quantities.
7. Get vaccinated to promote liver care
Vaccinate yourself against hepatitis A and B. Hepatitis A is contracted from contaminated food and water and hepatitis B, from sexual contact, contaminated blood, and needles.
Consult with your doctor before taking the vaccine especially if you're pregnant or if you have certain allergies.
8. Opt for a natural alternative
Pair healthy habits with a natural alternative to support liver health, such as taking milk thistle.
The natural herb is scientifically proven to support good liver health.
The key benefits of milk thistle include: Antioxidant, Detoxifies, Nourishes the liver.
Undoubtedly, the liver is a crucial organ of your body, and adopting simple lifestyle changes can ensure its smooth functioning and longevity.
If you are looking for the best ways to love your liver, diet changes, an active lifestyle, and lowering alcohol intake are some of the best habits to pick up. After all, a healthy liver leads to a healthy body, and a healthy body sets the foundation for a healthier and happier you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Foods like berries, nuts, cruciferous vegetables, and fatty fish are good for the liver. These are rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients that can help improve liver function and reduce liver scarring.
Taking care of your liver involves following certain healthy lifestyle habits like consuming a balanced diet, staying hydrated, exercising, and limiting alcohol consumption. Don’t forget to regularly consult your doctor about the medications you take.
Yes, exercise for the liver is a good way to promote liver health. Picking up some form of physical fitness can help with weight loss and overall metabolism, which in turn, reduces fatty liver and improves insulin sensitivity.
When working out for a fatty liver, try a combination of aerobic and resistance training exercises. This could include brisk walking, running, cycling, and swimming in addition to weightlifting or bodyweight exercises to promote the burning of fat in the liver.
Here’s how to keep your liver healthy: Incorporate proper nutrition and maintain an active lifestyle. Along with this, limit the toxins that enter your body through alcohol or cigarettes, and get checked and vaccinated for viral hepatitis at the right time!
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Our team of experts frequently monitors developments in the health and wellness field, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
Sep, 05 2023
Blessing Ifunanya Maduelosi
Fact checked By
Dr. Lynda Odoh - Anikwe