5 Ways to Live A “Healthy Liver” Dayby Carissa Andrews - October 19th, 2020
Did you know October is Liver Awareness Month? The liver is the second largest organ in the body and has some 500 or so critical jobs. Essentially, it’s a powerhouse by performing tasks such as producing proteins, cholesterol, and bile, as well as storing vitamins, minerals, and carbs. Plus, it breaks down toxins, alcohol, and medications. Without a healthy liver, you’re literally putting your life on the line. Toxins would accumulate in the body, you wouldn’t be able to digest foods and drinks, and your medications or toxins would never leave your system.
Since 1980, liver cancer incident rates have tripled, and death rates have more than doubled. An estimated 43K people will be diagnosed with liver cancer this year. With over one hundred different liver diseases, we felt it was important to join the cause and shed light on the incredible importance the liver has to your overall health. Because it’s such a complex organ (falling second only to the brain), understanding the simple ways we can protect it can be crucial to its overall health. Let’s take a look:
1. Maintain a healthy weight
One of the fastest growing forms of liver disease is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). As the name suggests, this type of liver disease has nothing to do with alcohol, and everything to do with the other things we consume. We talked about the liver’s multitude of duties, but did you know it plays a part in regulating glucose, blood pressure, blood sugar, insulin, estrogen, testosterone, immunity, and even blood cholesterol production and removal? When your liver gets stressed out by the foods we eat and the drinks we consume, it can add fat to the liver, which can lead to NAFLD.
Another thing to note about maintaining a healthy weight – sometimes it’s a vicious circle. When your liver is overworked, it can cause lethargy and weight gain as it tries to keep up. Like the kidneys, the liver is a body detoxifier, after all. But at a certain point, it reaches its limit. When that happens, toxins can accumulate, and hormones can go out of balance. Scheduling a liver detox twice a year could help get you back on track and keep NAFLD at bay.
2. Exercise and eat a balanced diet
While exercise and eating right are two different things, they really do go hand in hand. In terms of exercise, both aerobic and weight training benefits the liver. With aerobic exercise, the emphasis is on cardiovascular health, which strengthens your heart and allows you to pump blood around the body easily. With weights, the focus is on muscle mass and bone density. This builds lean muscle mass, which can delay muscle wasting if you were to develop liver disease. It also prevents the access build-up of body fat that can lead to NAFLD, as well as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
Consuming foods that are high in fat, sugar, and highly processed can stress your liver out as it tries to do its job. However, eating the right foods can actually detoxify your liver. Try adding more of the following to your diet: apples, beets, carrots, papayas, cabbage, and lemons. Each have their own way of cleansing and detoxifying the liver – as well as keeping you healthy overall. In addition, , coffee has a protective effect on both the liver and kidneys.
3. Be responsible with alcohol
The liver processes 90% of consumed alcohol, with the remaining 10% being excreted via urine, sweat, or breath. Because of this high processing capability, the liver can’t always keep up with the toxin. Alcohol is known to destroy liver cells, and in some cases, permanently scar the liver (cirrhosis). It can lead to inflammation (also known as alcoholic hepatitis) and swelling of the liver. If you choose to drink alcohol, it’s important to do so in a responsible way—and certainly be careful if taking medications, as they can interact and increase problematic side effects. Healthy adults should have no more than 1-2 drinks per day and no more than eight per week if you’re a woman and fifteen a week if you’re a man. Drinking more than this puts your health (and liver) at high risk for developing jaundice, cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer, and many other conditions. A sobering statistic: Between 40%-90% of the 26K annual cirrhosis deaths are alcohol related.
4. Monitor your medications and herbal products
The liver can be harmed when medications and herbal products are taken incorrectly. This includes taking too much at once or taking a medication too frequently. For example, while acetaminophen is considered extremely safe, taking more than 3000mg in a single day (or more than 1000mg in a single dose), or taking it for more than 3-5 days continuously, can affect the liver adversely. And that’s important to note because you can find acetaminophen in medications ranging from headache tablets to cold and allergy medications. Cholesterol medications can also impact the liver, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you’re prescribed these medications and want to know how to best take care of your liver.
Supplements and herbal products can also cause injury to your liver. Some of the most notable include Lipokinetix (a weight loss supplement), kava kava, Jin Bu Huan, germander, chaparral, shark cartilage, black cohosh, and more. Even certain vitamins, such as vitamin A and iron shouldn’t exceed their recommended daily doses, or it will adversely affect the liver, and in some cases, cause permanent damage.
5. Avoid toxins
Pesticides, herbicides, and cleaning products are known to all damage the liver. Be sure to use aerosol sprays in well-ventilated areas and double up protection by wearing a mask if you’re spraying insecticides, fungicides, paint, or other toxic chemicals. Don’t forget to wear gloves, long sleeves, etc. to make sure toxins aren’t also absorbed through the skin.
Protecting your liver isn’t difficult if you’re already trying to live a healthy lifestyle. But it can be more of a challenge if you’re not sure where to start. Canadian Pharmacy King wants you to live your best, healthiest life. For those of you wanting to learn more about liver cancer, perhaps you are facing liver cancer yourself, the American Liver Foundation has an online conference coming up this Friday and Saturday (October 16-17, 2020). If you want to participate with a supportive community, you can also join the American Liver Foundation’s new Facebook Group.