We sure know how to give our liver a hard time, especially at this time of year! Christmas parties, end of year celebrations, New Year’s … our liver goes into over drive to keep up!
As one of the most vital organs in the human body, we need to make sure that among the good times, we give the liver a break from alcohol and take good care of it.
Here are 10 things you can do to look after your liver:
1. Water, water, water
Our bodies love water – after all, we’re made up of around 60 percent water. So make sure you drink plenty of it every day! Add a dash of lemon or lime if you find it hard to drink plain water.
2. Manage your meds
Many medications can harm your liver, especially if you don’t take them as directed. Make sure your GP or medical specialist is aware of all of the medications you are taking and the dose. Other prescriptions, food intake and your genes are all factors that need to be considered when taking medication. If you start any new medication and notice that you are becoming nauseous, tired, itchy or jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eye), contact your medical professional.
3. Safe sex
Make sure you practice safe sex to protect yourself and your partner. There are a number of diseases transmitted during sex that can harm your liver. Hepatitis C is just one example.
4. Don’t overdo the drinks
When you consume excessive amounts of alcohol (more than six drinks for men and four for women), your liver begins to struggle processing other vital nutrients as it’s too busy removing the toxins. Excessive drinking overtime causes fat to build up in the liver, which can lead to inflammation and fatty liver disease. Doesn’t sound very nice and it’s not.
5. Eat the colour wheel
Eat a colourful diet full of fruits and vegetables. Not only does a colourful salad look good but it’s packed with nutrients and fibre – your liver will thank you! Keep the ‘beige’ foods (think bread, doughnuts etc) to a minimum.
6. Keep an eye on your BMI
Have you checked your body mass index (BMI) lately? If you are overweight or obese, your liver is at risk of developing fatty liver disease and this means that over time your liver could be damaged, along with other complications. The good news is that fatty liver disease can be reversed with weight loss and a healthy diet. Click here to check your BMI
Supplied by BMI Calculator Australia
7. Move your body
Exercise has so many benefits for your body and mind. It helps you to maintain a healthy BMI and lose weight, which helps to prevent liver disease. Choose an exercise that you enjoy and get started – even if it’s a walk around the block. Anything is better than nothing. Try different forms of exercise until you find something you enjoy and then it won’t even feel like exercise and you’ll still get to enjoy the benefits!
8. Be wise and sanitise
Did you wash your hands after you last went to the bathroom? Washing your hands after using the bathroom, before and after preparing and eating food is an easy way to stay safe from infectious germs that can harm your liver. Carry a hand sanitiser with you if possible and sanitise your hands after touching public surfaces too, including shopping trolleys, handrails and especially money.
9. Navigate needle risks
If you’ve ever injected illegal drugs seek out a hepatitis C test, as the disease can spread through your body and cause intense liver damage. The same test is valid if a needle has ever accidentally pricked you. Don’t share needles.
10. Don’t wait, vaccinate
If your liver already shows some form of damage or you have a weak immune system, be sure to check whether your vaccinations are up to date. Most children are vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B, however, many adults haven’t been immunised. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C.
Looking after your liver is essential for you to live well. A diseased liver just can’t do its job and that means you will become sick. If you have a history of heavy drinking, drug use, or you are overweight or obese, it’s a good idea to have your liver checked for disease, as often there are no symptoms in the early stages.
When you do start experiencing systems of liver disease, they can include: loss of appetite, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, feeling ill, tiredness fatigue, or more advanced symptoms like pain in the upper right side and an increased sensitivity to alcohol and drugs.
11. See a Liver Specialist To Take Liver Scan
A liver scan is a non-invasive, pain-free procedure that is similar to having an ultrasound. A liver scan measures the amount of scar tissue and fatty change (Steatosis) of the liver, allowing a liver specialist to determine if your liver is damaged and to what extent.
For more information on the LiverScan, click here. Remember, you only have one liver, so look after it this festive season and all year round!