The liver plays a significant role in proper functioning of the body. There is a range of factors that may lead to worsening of its condition and cause a range of health problems. In order to prevent harmful damages and maintain your liver in a good condition, it is important to know what can be harmful and how it is possible to support the organ, so that it could work normally.
Why Supporting Your Liver Healthy Is Important
The liver is a large organ protected by the rib cage. It is responsible for filtering the blood that comes from the digestive tract and passing it further to the body.
It is the only organ responsible for chemical processing. The liver receives about 1/3 of the blood circulating in the body every minute. In order to remove toxins, store and distribute essential nutrients, the organ performs special chemical reactions. Another important function of the liver is metabolic.
Generally, the liver carries out the following functions:
- Releases carbohydrates needed for energy;
- Breaks down fat and if there is too much of it, the liver creates a storage molecule and transports fat to body’s storage depots;
- Removes nitrogen from proteins;
- Stores many vitamins and provides them when the body needs them the most.
What Can Be Damaging to the Liver?
Due to various harmful factors, the liver may fail to conduct its functions normally. In order to find out how to maintain a healthy liver, it is important to know the factors that may affect it.
The main reasons that may lead to worsening of liver condition are the following:
- High salt intake;
- Overuse of medications;
- Nutritional supplements;
- Inappropriate use of alternative medicines;
- Infections and illness.
If the liver cannot resist harmful impacts, various diseases may occur.
As a result of liver diseases, a person may experience the following symptoms:
- Skin and eyes appear yellowish;
- Swelling in the legs and ankles;
- Abdominal pain and swelling;
- Itchy skin;
- Tendency to bruise easily;
- Pale, bloody or tar-colored stool;
- Dark color of urine;
- Chronic fatigue;
- Vomiting or nausea;
- Loss of appetite.
In order to cure liver diseases or decrease their symptoms the proper treatment is needed, which usually takes quite a lot of time, so it is better to take care of a normal liver condition beforehand.
How Can You Maintain Your Liver Healthy?
There are things you can do in order to maintain the normal functioning of your liver, including these four tips:
- Controlling eating habits.
- Leading a healthy lifestyle.
- Preventing and on-time treatment of infections and illness.
- Consulting a healthcare provider.
Tip #1: Controlling Eating Habits
There are foods that may be useful for your liver and there are foods, the consumption of which should be avoided or wisely limited.
Useful foods for the liver are the following:
- Beets and carrots;
- Leafy green vegetables;
- Brussels sprouts;
- Citrus fruits;
- Cruciferous vegetables;
- Green tea;
- Olive oil;
- Alternative grains.
Harmful foods for the liver are the following:
- Foods that contain much sodium (pizza, lunch meats, cheese, soy sauce and others);
- Foods and beverages with a high level of fructose corn syrup (soda, fruit snacks, pudding, cereal bars, bread and crackers, yogurt and others);
- Foods with trans fats (store-bought frosting, crackers, salad dressings, cookies and biscuits, microwave popcorn and others);
- Foods with high amounts of fructose or fruit sugar (raisins, juices, trail mix agave nectar, honey and others);
- Fried foods (French fries, fried, breaded sandwiches, mozzarella sticks and fried appetizers, doughnuts, and others).
There are harmful foods for the liver, though very tasty, and it is not that easy to refuse yourself in consuming them. It is needed to consider the condition of your liver. Provided that you do not have any chronic liver diseases and your liver functions properly, you may allow yourself a meal that is not useful but delicious from time to time.
As for useful foods, it is very easy to pick at least several products to include in your constant ration.
Tip #2: Leading a Healthy Lifestyle
- Reducing or quitting smoking. In 2011, a study was conducted and, according to its results, about 50% of liver cancer cases occurred due to smoking. It makes immunological and oncogenic effects as well as direct and indirect toxic effects on the liver. Heavy smoking is considered to be consumption of more than two packs (40 cigarettes) a day.
- Reducing or stopping the use of alcohol. Consumption of more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day increases the risk of developing fatty liver. The consumption of more than 5-6 units a day will almost certainly result in fatty liver occurrence and may lead to other liver problems;
- Regular exercising is beneficial for weight loss and for maintaining the overall good health condition. Obesity and fats are one of the major causes of liver diseases, so regular physical training and dieting will significantly maintain the liver condition.
Tip #3: Preventing and On-Time Treatment of Infections and Illnesses
Parasites, viruses and various diseases can significantly affect the liver. Hepatitis viruses are the most common types of liver infections. It is important to take care of hygiene, use condoms during sexual intercourse and improve the immune system. If an infection or illness has occurred, the treatment should be conducted as soon as possible under the supervision of a healthcare provider.
Tip #4: Consulting a Doctor
There are many medications that may be harmful to the liver if used incorrectly. If you want to use a medication or supplement, you should consult your healthcare provider first.
In some cases, you may be recommended to take liver function tests or liver enzyme in order to determine whether your liver functions properly.
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