Advertisement

Love your liver

Love your liver
Getty Images

The liver is one of the body’s largest and most important organs, performing over 500 vital functions that include cleansing blood, eliminating toxins, transforming nutrients into energy and storing vitamins and minerals. To keep this all-important organ in tip-top shape, here’s what you should cut out for a healthy liver.

Drinking too much alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol
Getty Images

We’re all well aware of the damaging effects alcohol can have on the body, especially when it comes to the liver. But what’s surprising for some is that it doesn’t always take excessive amounts of alcohol to cause severe damage. “Overuse of alcohol can differ from patient to patient, but however much is ‘too much’ for you can result in ongoing inflammation and overwork,” says John Iskander, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. “Years and decades of ongoing inflammation can ultimately lead to the development of scar tissue and cirrhosis, or end-stage liver disease, which is the leading cause of liver failure in the United States.” If you’re a healthy adult, it’s safe to drink in moderation, but if you have a family history of alcoholism or alcohol-related liver diseases, limit regular use.

Here are 9 signs that your liver is in big trouble.

Not drinking enough water

Not drinking enough water
Getty Images

You’ve heard before that you’re supposed to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. While it might seem like a lot, our bodies are composed of approximately 65 percent of the stuff – meaning we need all the H2O we can get. “Dehydration can have a direct effect on our liver’s ability to properly detoxify our body,” says Michele Neil-Sherwood, DO, of the Functional Medical Institute and co-author of The Quest for Wellness. “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.” And when this happens, your risk of illness increases.

Find out how doing a cleanse can benefit your liver.

Smoking cigarettes

Smoking cigarettes
Getty Images

Each year, tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year, according to the World Health Organisation. As if that’s not enough proof of smoking’s hazardous harm to our bodies, a 2011 study found that smoking was the cause of nearly half of all liver cancers. “Smoking is horrific for the system in general because of the harmful chemicals and increase of oxidative stress in the system,” says Dr. Neil-Sherwood. “This stress in the system can eventually reach the liver causing not just liver cell damage but entire system cellular damage.”

Check out these 15 mind-blowing ways your body heals itself after you quit smoking.

Being overweight

Being overweight
Getty Images

One often-overlooked consequence of being overweight is fat buildup that accumulates around the liver and can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This disease refers to a wide spectrum of liver diseases that range from fatty liver to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and cirrhosis, or permanent scarring of the liver as a result of chronic inflammation. “The term ‘nonalcoholic’ is used because the damage to the liver is so similar to the damage caused by alcohol damage, even though these patients do not consume excessive amounts of alcohol,” explains Dr. Brown. If you have NAFLD or NASH, it’s especially important to eat a healthy diet and exercise to help keep your liver health in check.

Be aware of these weight-loss roadblocks that could be holding you back.

Ingesting too much sugar in your diet

Ingesting too much sugar in your diet
Getty Images

You know it’s important to limit the amount of sugar you eat and drink, but you may be surprised to learn that what you risk is a potential liver disease diagnosis. The main problem lies with high fructose corn syrup, an extremely popular substance in the standard western diet. “While nearly every cell in the body is able to metabolise glucose, only the liver cells can handle fructose,” says Dr. Sherwood of the Functional Medicine Institute in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “If we consume too much fructose over time, the liver can become overwhelmed and suffer irreparable damage.” Do your best to limit foods with refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup, such as soft drink, baked goods and other sweets, and stick to natural sources of sugar like fruit.

Find out why sugar is the new tobacco.

Advertisement

Eating high glycemic foods or large meals before bed

Eating high glycemic foods or large meals before bed
Getty Images

The majority of your liver functions happen at night, so indulging in heavy foods will only create more work for the organ – think those that contain margarine, shortening, or canola oil. “Instead snack on fresh raw carrots and beets in the evenings, as both are powerful liver cleansing and rebuilding foods,” says California-based MD George Kosmides.

Here are five shopping hacks for low G.I. foods.

Loading up on trans fats – any time of day

Loading up on trans fats – any time of day
Getty Images

If you have high cholesterol, you’re probably used to being warned about the danger of trans fats – man-made hydrogenated oil that makes food less likely to go bad. Trans fats raise your “bad” cholesterol, or LDL, while lowering your body’s amount of “good” cholesterol, HDL. You can find them in most baked goods, pre-packaged snacks like chips and microwave popcorn and fried foods. Some restaurants even add a form of trans fats to their deep fryers so that they have to change the oil less frequently. Gross, right?

Find out more about trans fat and why it will be banned from all foods by 2023.

Engaging in unsafe sex

Engaging in unsafe sex
Getty Images

Having unsafe sex, particularly with multiple partners, could be a bigger threat to your liver health than you may realise. The biggest and most significant risk is that you could contract hepatitis, a potentially deadly liver disease that can be transmitted sexually. “While there are three common forms – A, B, and C – the one you want to look out for when it comes to sexual activity is hepatitis B, which can be spread through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids, not just blood or faeces, like the other two,” says Dr. Brown. To protect your liver and your overall health, it’s vital to practice safe sex, every single time.

On the other hand, here are 5 ways sex can save your life.

Certain herbal supplements and vitamins

Certain herbal supplements and vitamins
Getty Images

Believe it or not, taking too many supplements can contribute to liver damage – yes, even quality food supplements. Just because something says it’s ”all-natural” does not mean it’s completely fine for you to take. “The role of the liver is to filter out toxins and it does this through a complex metabolic process of breaking down everything we ingest – even certain supplements,” explains Dr. Brown. “During this process, certain supplements can damage the liver.” And because herbal supplements aren’t always well regulated, there’s no clear-cut way to determine if a supplement is right for you. Your best bet is to check in with your pharmacist or primary doctor who can determine how a supplement or vitamin will line up with your health history.

Check out these 10 ways to make vitamins and minerals work better for you.

Never miss a deal again - sign up now!

Connect with us:

Philippines lockdown update:
Please be advised that due to the current lockdown in the Philippines, Reader’s Digest magazine May issue will not be available at its regular on-sale date to our subscribers or through our retail channels in that region. We hope to have the issues available in early June, but this is dependent on when the lockdown restrictions are lifted. We sincerely apologise for this inconvenience. Thank you and stay safe!
– The Reader’s Digest team