Your liver is constantly working. It has hundreds of jobs, including filtering toxins from your blood, balancing macro- and micronutrients, and regulating hormones. Most of the time, you don’t even know it’s working at all. Even when it stops working properly, you don’t notice anything out of the ordinary. But liver problems that go unnoticed can progress to liver failure, a life-threatening condition.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to prevent liver disease. You may have heard that detoxes are a good way to keep your liver healthy. Here’s what else you can do to keep your liver strong and healthy.
- 1 Are liver detoxifications or cleanses effective?
- 2 What can help improve your liver health?
- 2.1 1. Limit your alcohol intake
- 2.2 2. Watch your medication intake
- 2.3 3. Don’t assume supplements are good for your liver
- 2.4 4. Eat a liver-friendly diet
- 2.5 5. Exercise regularly
- 2.6 6. Take Hepatitis Precautions
- 2.7 7. Limit your contact with environmental toxins
- 3 A healthy lifestyle for a healthy liver
Are liver detoxifications or cleanses effective?
Liver detoxifications are ubiquitous these days. These are usually diets, teas, juices, vitamins, supplements, or a combination of products that are supposed to remove toxins from your body and help you lose weight. These cleanses are based on the idea that chemicals and toxins are constantly building up in your body. But this is a misconception. In fact, your liver does not allow potentially harmful substances to accumulate. When a toxin enters your body, your liver quickly turns it into something less harmful. Eventually, it is excreted.
There is nothing you can do to make this process easier. If your liver wasn’t already doing this job on its own, your body would struggle to function. Not surprisingly, there is no scientific proof of the effectiveness of detoxes and cleanses. And because products like teas and supplements aren’t regulated the same way drugs are, their long-term side effects are often unknown. If you take too much too often, these products can even harm your liver. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is a much better strategy to keep your liver safe and functioning well.
What can help improve your liver health?
Your daily choices and lifestyle habits can affect your long-term liver health. While these strategies may not seem as simple as a spot clean, they are more likely to protect your liver and keep it healthy. Let’s look at seven key strategies that can help protect your liver in your daily life.
1. Limit your alcohol intake
Your liver processes all of the alcoholic beverages you consume, including wine, beer, and spirits. The more you drink, the harder your liver has to work. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can wreak havoc and destroy liver cells. Alcohol-related liver disease encompasses several different liver conditions, such as:
– alcoholic fatty liver disease
– acute alcoholic hepatitis
– alcoholic cirrhosis
To avoid alcohol-related liver disease, watch your alcohol intake. This corresponds to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
Also, avoid mixing alcohol and medications, which puts excessive strain on your liver.
2. Watch your medication intake
All medications (whether over-the-counter or prescribed by a doctor) eventually pass through your liver where they are broken down. Most medications are safe for your liver when taken as directed. However, taking too much medicine, taking it too often, taking the wrong kind of medicine, or taking more than one medicine at once can harm your liver. If you are concerned about how a medicine may affect your liver, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. You can also have your liver tested before and after you start taking a new medicine.
3. Don’t assume supplements are good for your liver
Like medications, supplements such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, and natural remedies are processed by your liver. Just because a product is natural doesn’t mean it won’t have long-term consequences for your liver. In fact, many seemingly harmless products are capable of doing damage. Even vitamins, especially vitamin A and niacin, can cause liver damage if you take too much. To avoid liver complications, talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.
4. Eat a liver-friendly diet
It should come as no surprise, but your diet plays an important role in your overall liver health. To make sure your diet is good for your liver in the long run, try the following:
Eat a variety of foods
Choose whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, dairy products and healthy fats. Foods such as grapefruit, blueberries, nuts, and fatty fish are known to have potential liver benefits.
Eat enough fiber
Fiber is essential for the proper functioning of your liver. Fruits and vegetables and whole grains are great sources of fiber to include in your diet.
Be sure to drink enough water every day to keep your liver in top shape.
Limit fatty, sugary and salty foods
Foods high in fat, sugar, and salt can affect liver function over time. Fried and fast foods can also affect your liver health.
Coffee has been shown to reduce the risk of liver diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. It works by preventing the buildup of fat and collagen, two factors in liver disease.
5. Exercise regularly
Physical activity is not only good for your musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. It is also good for your liver. Research from 2018 examined the role of exercise in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), now one of the most common liver diseases. The researchers concluded that cardio and resistance exercises help prevent fat buildup in the liver. You don’t have to run marathons to reap the rewards. You can start exercising today by going for a brisk walk, taking an online workout course, or riding a bike.
6. Take Hepatitis Precautions
Hepatitis is a disease that causes inflammation of the liver. Some types of hepatitis cause only acute, short-lasting symptoms (hepatitis A), while others are long-lasting illnesses (hepatitis B and C).
You can protect yourself against hepatitis by first understanding how the most common forms are spread:
– Hepatitis A is spread by consuming food or water contaminated with the feces of a person with hepatitis A.
– Hepatitis B is spread through contact with the bodily fluids of a person with hepatitis B. Body fluids include blood, vaginal discharge, and semen.
– Hepatitis C is spread through contact with the bodily fluids of a person with hepatitis C.
To protect yourself against hepatitis, you can:
Adopt good hygiene. Wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitizer.
Take extra precautions when traveling. Find out about the risks of hepatitis in the area you are visiting. Avoid tap water or local ice and unwashed fruits or vegetables.
Do not share your personal items. Keep your toothbrush and razor to yourself. If you use intravenous (IV) drugs, do not share needles.
Make sure the needles are sterilized. Before getting a tattoo or piercing, make sure the studio uses disposable needles or an autoclave machine to sterilize the needles.
Have safer sex. If you have sex with more than one partner, use a condom to reduce your risk of hepatitis B and C.
7. Limit your contact with environmental toxins
Not only does your liver process chemicals that enter your body through your mouth, it also processes chemicals that enter through your nose and skin.
Some common household products contain toxins that can damage your liver, especially if you come into regular contact with them. To prevent your liver from long-term damage, opt for organic cleaning products and techniques to clean your home. Avoid using pesticides and herbicides in your garden, or take precautions not to inhale chemical fumes. If you must use chemicals or aerosols inside the house, for painting, for example, make sure your space is well ventilated. If this is not possible, wear a mask.
A healthy lifestyle for a healthy liver
Although liver detoxes and cleanses have become popular, there is no scientific evidence of their effectiveness. And since many of these products are not regulated in the same way as drugs, little is known about their effectiveness and long-term side effects. Liver cleanses are based on the idea that chemicals and toxins are constantly building up in your body, but that’s a misconception. Instead of opting for a liver detox, it’s safer to focus on healthy lifestyle choices and habits. Habits that have been proven to protect the liver include a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and protection from potentially dangerous medications, liver disease, and environmental toxins.