January is Love Your Liver month. Livers are amazing things, they do so much for us, and we tend to give them a battering a lot of the time.
Did you know that the liver is the largest gland, and the largest solid organ (not including the skin) in the body?
What does it do?
The liver performs over 500 vital functions including:
- Processes digested food
- Controls fat, amino acid, and glucose levels in the blood
- Fights infections
- Clears particles, infections, and bacteria from the blood
- Neutralises and destroys drugs and toxins
- Makes bile
- Stores iron, vitamins, and other essential chemicals
- Breaks down food and turns it into energy
- Manufactures, breaks down, and regulates many hormones
- Makes the enzymes and proteins responsible for most chemical reactions in the body
It is a substantial list of jobs, so when it becomes damaged, it can lead to a whole range of problems, and can be fatal.
What can you do to help?
To show your liver some love and help keep it healthy, consider these areas.
Too much alcohol can cause serious and lasting damage. It is not about being an alcoholic – regular drinking in general can damage the liver and prevent it from repairing itself. Make sure you have some drink free days.
- Drink no more than 14 units a week
- Take 3 days off alcohol a week to give your liver a rest and let it repair
- Avoid alcohol if you are pregnant or trying to conceive
The British Liver Trust also has the Spruce App (Apple only) which encourages you to drink alcohol in a healthier way.
Reduce Portion Sizes
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) – a build up of liver fat associated with being overweight and obese – is fast catching up with alcohol for being the most common cause of liver disease. Nutrition plays an important part in providing energy as well as affecting our chemical and hormone balance.
Switching to smaller portions, and using smaller plates, can help reduce calorie intake by up to 16%.
Cut down sugary drinks/increase water intake
Daily sugar sweetened drinks are linked with NAFLD, so switch to diet versions, or water.
The liver works by filtering the toxins from your blood, but if your blood is thick, as it is when you are lacking fluids, it can be much more difficult to filter. Drinking plenty of water will help keep you hydrated and your liver removing toxins as it should.
You can use the British Liver Trust’s Love Your Liver Health Screener to find out your risk of liver disease, and how best to help it.
Your liver works hard loving you, show it some love back.
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