Quick one! Can you show me where your liver is? Not so sure right…
The Liver is one of the most important organs in the body, yet also one of the most neglected players in your body’s digestive system.
Everything you eat or drink, including medicine, passes through it. You therefore need to treat it right so it can stay healthy and do its job.
Your liver is about the diameter of a football and sits under your lower ribcage on the right side. It has several important things to do, one of which includes, helping to clean your blood by getting rid of harmful chemicals that your body makes.
It also makes a liquid called bile, which helps you break down fat from food. It also stores sugar called glucose, which gives you a quick energy boost when you need it.
You need to keep your liver healthy and functioning because without it, you cannot live a healthy and happy life even as you grow older.
Here are seven ways keep your liver healthy:
1. Eat a Healthy diet
It’s important to watch what you eat. Limit foods that are high in refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup, such as soft drinks, baked goods and sweets. Stick to natural sources of sugar (fruit for example) instead, only the liver cells can handle these refined sugars and If we consume too much over time, the liver can become overwhelmed and suffer irreparable damage.
Avoid saturated fat and refined carbs (white bread, white rice and regular pasta, for example). Make sure you get enough fiber, too, from fresh fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, rice and cereals.
2. Manage your medication
Most drugs are broken down in the liver after being metabolized by your digestive system. That means you can damage your liver if you use medication incorrectly – for example, when you take more than the prescribed dose, you use the wrong kind or you mix different types.
If you are unsure about whether the medication you are taking may cause liver damage, speak to your doctor or pharmacist today. Always follow the instructions – from how to take it to when to take it, and how much to take at a time.
3. Exercise regularly
Regular exercising helps your body burn triglycerides for fuel, which can help reduce liver fat. Do you know that, following an exercise program that includes both aerobic exercises (walking, cycling or swimming) and weight training can improve your liver function?
Aerobic exercise helps strengthen your heart muscle, which means it can pump blood more efficiently throughout your body. When this happens, your pulse slows and blood flow improves – it’s easier for your heart to move blood to your liver, and then for your liver to send the filtered blood back into your system.
4. Stay hydrated
Your body needs to remain hydrated. Toxins that affect your kidneys, liver and bowel function will build up when you become dehydrated.
Dehydration can have a direct effect on our liver’s ability to properly detoxify our body. So as the liver loses hydration, it also loses its organ reserve, or what it uses to take care of the rest of the body.
Water also helps maintain the fluid content of your blood. When you become dehydrated, your blood becomes thicker – your liver is responsible for filtering blood and the thickness can impact its ability to detoxify.
5. Limit your alcohol consumption
Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol can cause damage to your liver cells. Over time, liver damage can cause a build-up of fat in your liver, inflammation or swelling and/or scarring (cirrhosis). If you already have liver disease, even a small amount of alcohol can worsen your condition.
How much is a moderate amount of alcohol? According to a previous Health24 article, women should limit their consumption to one drink per day, while men should only have two. One drink is equal to 148ml of wine, a 355ml beer or one shot (44ml) of an 80-proof liquor.
6. Practice safe sex and prevent Viral Hepatitis
Hepatitis a serious disease that harms your liver and cause long term damages. There are several types; which can be gotten from eating or drinking water that contains the virus. You can get a vaccine if you’re traveling to a part of the world where there are outbreaks.
Hepatitis B and C are spread through blood and body fluids. To cut your risk, don’t share items like toothbrushes, razors, or needles. Limit the number of sex partners you have, and always use latex condoms. Because it often doesn’t cause symptoms, you can have it for years and not know it. If you think you’ve had contact with the virus, talk to your doctor to see if you need a blood test.
7. Be careful with herbs and dietary supplements
Some can harm your liver.
In recent years, some herbs and supplements have hit the market that say they restore the liver, be wary of those claims. Consult your pharmacist before consuming any of such.
This is compiled by:
Pharm. Morakinyo Adejare
Co-founder my-medicines.com and Tech enthusiast.
In-house writer Advantage Health Africa.