Look after your liver with these eight tips from a Mediclinic Hepatologist and Consultant Gastroenterologist
8 July 2021| Last updated on 8 July 2021
How healthy is your liver?
The liver is the largest solid organ and the largest gland in the human body. It carries over 500 essential tasks.
The liver is responsible for performing crucial functions related to immunity, digestion, metabolism, storage of absorbed nutrients and excretion. An organ as complex as the liver can experience a range of problems. A healthy liver functions very efficiently. However, in a diseased or malfunctioning liver, the consequences can be dangerous or even fatal.
Liver diseases refer to any disorders of the liver that hamper its proper functioning. Viruses, genetic or lifestyle factors including overconsumption of alcohol, excessive smoking, unhealthy eating habits, obesity, etc., are known to cause damage to your liver, resulting in liver failure.
There has been a steady rise in the rate of liver diseases over the years. Globally, alcohol, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and viral hepatitis are the most common causative factors of liver diseases.
Know that your liver does not show any immediate signs and symptoms of deterioration unless it is severely damaged. However, classic symptoms of liver disease include nausea, vomiting, upper abdominal pain, and jaundice.
Despite its ability to regenerate, the liver depends on being healthy to do so. The liver can mostly be protected through lifestyle choices and dietary measures.
Keeping your liver in good shape is the key to preventing liver diseases.
To take good care of your liver, below are some tips you must follow, from Dr. George Alexander, Hepatologist and Consultant Gastroenterologist at Mediclinic.
1. Maintain a healthy weight
Obesity can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), one of the fastest-growing forms of liver disease.
Regular exercise is crucial.
2. Eat a balanced diet
Avoid high-calorie meals, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates (such as white bread, white rice and regular pasta) and sugars.
For a well-adjusted diet, eat fibre, which you can obtain from fresh fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread, rice, and cereals. Hydration is essential, so drink a lot of water.
3. Take care and protect yourself against Hepatitis B or C
Hepatitis B and C can be transmitted sexually or if there is a chance of blood-to-blood contact. Practice safe sex and avoid unnecessary sharing of toothbrushes, razors, needles and other personal care items – these can also transmit hepatitis B or C.
If you are a Hepatitis B or C carrier, consult your doctor for a screening program to detect problems early. If your parents are carriers and/or you are not sure, get a Hepatitis screen.
Get vaccinated for hepatitis A and B. If you’re keen to get a tattoo or a piercing, take extra care to find an establishment that is clean and adheres to meticulous sterilization practices.
4. Consume alcohol responsibly
Alcoholic beverages can damage or destroy liver cells and scar your liver. Talk to your doctor about what amount of alcohol is right for you.
You may be advised to drink alcohol only in moderation or to quit completely.
5. Cut down smoking or stop smoking
Some studies link cigarette smoking with the development of liver cancer. Smoking can also enhance the toxic effects that some medications (such as paracetamol) have on the liver.
6. Avoid the use of illicit drugs
Illicit drugs include marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or prescription-type psychotherapeutics (pain relievers, tranquillizers, stimulants, and sedatives) used non-medically.
7. Follow directions on all medications
When medicines are taken incorrectly by taking too much, the wrong type or by mixing medicines, your liver can be harmed.
8. Do regular Liver checkups
As the liver disease does not have any initial symptoms, it’s important to do regular tests, especially in at-risk individuals, to pick up liver damage and intervene early.
Authored by Dr. George Alexander
Dr. George Alexander
Hepatologist and Consultant Gastroenterologist
Mediclinic Deira and Mediclinic Welcare Hospital