The average liver weighs in at about three pounds, and after the skin, it is the second largest human organ. Your liver is critical to almost every function in your body. It filters blood from the digestive tract, so it is therefore responsible for the metabolic break down of nutrients, toxic substances such as alcohol and a range of other substances you consume. The liver’s other primary function involves the production of proteins and bile to aid the digestion of certain foods and break down fats.
The importance of your liver’s well-being simply can’t be underestimated, which is why you should take steps to protect it throughout your life. These five relatively simple, natural steps should ensure that your liver performs its various functions efficiently at all times.
Restrict Sugar And Total Fat Intake
If you are eating more than your recommended daily allowance of sugar and fat, you are putting additional strain on your liver. If you continue to consume an unbalanced diet on a long-term basis and become obese, your liver will develop fatty deposits which can then progress to irreversible liver damage.
Eat A Plant Based Diet
The most effective step you can take to protect your liver is to switch to a diet dominated by vegetables, fruit and wholegrains. Red meat should only be eaten in small amounts and occasionally.
The substance lycopene is an antioxidant. This carotenoid is found in several fruits and vegetables, and it is the substance that gives foods such as tomatoes and watermelon their red colour. Bell peppers, papayas and pink guava are also rich in lycopene.
Another dietary compound with known links to liver well-being and cancer prevention is curcumin. This is the substance that gives turmeric its yellow colour, and it is found in Indian cuisine. Studies have shown that curcumin can reduce the likelihood of liver cancer developing through a process called apoptosis.
Resveratrol is a dietary compound found in grapes and peanuts. It has been shown to be useful in preventing and treating liver cancer. Red wine is also a good source but because alcohol damages the liver, drinking it for resveratrol defeats the purpose!
For a change coffee has had good press and is linked to prevention on liver cancer due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. A sensible amount to consume would be around 3 cups a day.
Of course, eating the right nutrients in sufficient quantities is not always easy. By starting a course of liver supplements if you already have signs of liver damage it is one way of taking control of the situation.
There is also a role for Vitamin E in our diet when considering the maintenance and support of our Liver. Food such as spinach, tofu and nuts are high in Vitamin E and could be incorporated into our daily diet.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol is known to destroy liver cells when consumed regularly and in large quantities. This can lead to a fatty liver over time, and in some severe cases, cirrhosis or hepatitis. Stick to the government’s recommended daily alcohol allowance, and try to have at least alcohol free days in order to give your liver the chance to recover.
Take Plenty Of Exercise
Exercising regularly is beneficial to your overall health, but it also helps you to maintain a healthy body weight. Having a healthy BMI (20-24.9kg/m2) will greatly reduce the risk of developing a fatty, inefficient liver. According to a report from the Annals of Hepatology, exercising for at least 150 minutes per week can reduce liver enzymes, which are a warning sign if they are raised.
Limit Pain Killers
Only take pain relief when you absolutely have to as excess can damage the liver, especially when combined with alcohol. Always follow the manufacturer’s dosage guidelines and if you’re on another medication already, consult your doctor before taking regular pain relief.
You liver is critical to your overall health and well-being. Look after it with the right diet and lifestyle choices, and it will look after you.