The largest solid organ in the human body, the liver is responsible for carrying out a lot of functions that are essential to human life. Its jobs include processing the blood coming from the stomach and the intestines, breaking down and balancing nutrients, regulating hormone levels, metabolising drugs, and detoxifying chemicals. It also secretes bile, which is a solution that plays a critical role in digestion and the absorption of fat and fat-soluble vitamins. And these are just some of the many roles that this 3-pound organ manages to do. It’s imperative, then, to take care of your liver to ensure that these processes and functions can be carried out without interruption. Here are some of the habits you should foster to keep your liver healthy.
Be Careful When Consuming Alcohol
It’s not just people with chronic alcoholism and those who get black-out drunk regularly who are prone to issues like cirrhosis and liver cancer. Even just drinking 1.5 ounces of alcohol per day for 10 years is enough to increase one’s risk for alcohol-related liver diseases. For reference, a 5-ounce glass of wine with about 10 to 15 per cent alcohol contains close to 1 ounce of alcohol, while a 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor or a typical mixed drink with hard liquor in it has about 0.5 ounces of alcohol.
Now is as good a time as any to evaluate your relationship with alcohol. If you think you’re having too much, talk to your doctor about how you can safely cut back on your alcohol intake, as there are certain dangers that come with quitting alcohol cold turkey.
Take Medications as Instructed
The liver plays a central role in metabolising medications. It’s worth noting, though, that there are certain medications that can cause harm to the liver. Common over-the-counter painkiller acetaminophen is one, and taking too much of this medication can lead to acute liver injury or even liver failure in extreme cases.
As a rule of thumb, do not ingest more than 4 mg of acetaminophen within 24 hours, and never take more than one medication with acetaminophen in it. Also, before taking any supplement, make sure none of its ingredients is harmful to the liver. Note that you may be recommended prescription medications that might have negative effects on the liver. In many cases, it’s likely that your doctor has determined that the benefits of taking the said drug outweigh its risks.
Protect Yourself When Working with Toxins
One of the roles of the liver is filtering the blood and removing toxins from it. This means that the organ is one of the first in line to be affected if toxins get into your body. To prevent damaging your liver while dealing with toxic chemicals like pesticides and cleaning solutions, read and heed the warning on the label before use. Take all necessary precautions to reduce your exposure to these toxins by washing produce and cooking ingredients well prior to consumption. Also, to prevent accidental ingestion of toxic solutions and poisoning in your home, keep medications and potentially toxic substances locked and properly labelled.
Eat Healthy and Exercise Regularly
Keeping your weight under control, exercising regularly, and eating healthy meals in moderation can bring a lot of benefits to your body. One of these is avoiding fatty liver, a common condition wherein extra fat builds up in the liver. In most cases, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has no symptoms. Sometimes, though, it can lead to liver damage, inflammation, and scarring or cirrhosis of the liver. It’s best to reduce your chances of getting this condition by leading a healthy lifestyle.
Get Tested for Common Liver Conditions
There are conditions that rarely show any symptoms while inflicting damage to the liver. One of these is hepatitis, an infection that can cause inflammation and damage to the organ. Getting tested for hepatitis can help you determine if you have the disease and take active steps to restore the health and function of your liver.
It’s also worth knowing some of the most common means to avoid contracting hepatitis so you can lower the chances of getting the infection. Some of the precautionary measures against the disease involve getting vaccinated for hepatitis A and B, practising safe sex to avoid hepatitis B and C, and exercising proper hand hygiene to prevent contracting or spreading hepatitis A.
Know When to See a Doctor for Liver Issues
In terms of symptoms of illnesses, the liver can be pretty quiet. However, there are certain symptoms that can be indicative of possible liver issues. These include jaundice or the yellowing of the skin and eyes, dark urine colour, pale stool colour, chronic fatigue, and swelling and pain in the abdomen. If you have these symptoms, see a doctor quickly to determine what’s wrong with your liver and find treatments that will bring it back to health.
Safeguarding your liver’s health is all about leading a healthy lifestyle. Take note of these tips, practise them regularly to the point that they become a habit, and you’ll reduce your risk for conditions that can harm your liver.
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