Your liver is the second largest organ in the body with your skin being the largest organ though external. In an adult, the liver weights around 3 pounds and is roughly the size of a football, making it superior to other abdominal cavity organs such as the stomach, kidneys, gallbladder, and intestines. The organ is located in the upper right hand side of the abdomen behind the lower ribs.
The liver serves a wide range of bodily functions, 500 to be exact. These include among others, storing nutrients, metabolism upkeep, keeping the immune system functioning healthy, synthesizing proteins, keeps the blood clean, promotes digestion of food, and works to fight infections.
Although this remarkable organ boasts the highest regenerative capacity of all the major organs. There are some basic lifestyle behaviors you should practice to help keep your liver healthy.
Let’s discuss what you should do to maintain a healthy liver and lifestyle habits to avoid or at least limit.
Lifestyle Habits and Your Liver
The American Liver Foundation says there are 13 ways to keep your liver healthy. Some of their top suggestions include:
- Maintain a Healthy Weight
- Eat a Balanced Diet
- Regular Exercise
- Avoid Toxins (as much as possible)
- Use Alcohol Responsibly
- Avoid The Use Of Illicit Drugs
Now let’s examine each of these top suggestions starting with maintaining a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet.
Maintain a Healthy Weight By Eating A Balanced Diet
Most people struggle with overburdened livers due to a toxic diet and lifestyle. This means their bodies are ineffective at digestion and fat breakdown, resulting in weight gain, feeling heavy, bloated and sluggish.
The liver is biologically designed to filter naturally occurring metabolic byproducts from the blood. Unnatural byproducts though, such as chemicals and preservatives found in processed foods are not removed and therefore place a hardship on the liver.
The more of these unnatural byproducts consumed, the more your liver is compromised.
As the liver becomes overwhelmed with these chemicals and preservatives, the more ineffective the liver becomes. If the liver can not keep up, the body becomes sick and gains weight.
How can you know if your liver is overwhelmed or compromised?
The signs of a overwhelmed liver include:
- Digestive problems
- Aches and pains
- Mood swings
- Bad breath
- Sugar cravings
- Fluid retention
- High blood pressure
To help prevent overwhelming your liver, you need to maintain a healthy weight by eating a healthy and well balanced diet.
This includes limiting if not avoiding junk food. Foods included in this category contain the chemicals and toxins that can overwhelm your liver.
Maintaining your livers health includes eating whole natural foods including foods as shown in the following image…
These foods serve the purpose of helping to filter and detox the liver keeping it healthy and at pick performance.
Read more here about some of these foods:
Exercise Regularly For A Healthy Liver Function
The continued bombardment of unnatural toxins on the liver can lead to fatty liver disease.
Liversupport.com says that fatty liver disease is characterized by one of two levels of severity. Steatosis, the mild form of a fatty liver, occurs when there is fat accumulation in the liver that is not associated with inflammation. Steatosis typically does not cause liver damage. If recognized before it progresses, lifestyle changes can reverse steatosis.
In those who do not consume alcohol, NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) is the more severe form of fatty liver disease. Besides fat accumulation in the liver, steatohepatitis means that inflammation is also present. The liver can scar in those with NASH, a problem that may progress to cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer.
According to researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, obese individuals with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) who are also at risk of developing type 2 diabetes may be able to improve the condition of their livers and boost their metabolic health through moderate amounts of aerobic activity.
Examples of aerobic exercises include cardio machines, spinning, running, swimming, walking, hiking, aerobics classes, dancing, cross country skiing, and kickboxing.
Though you may not be able to employ all of these activities, you surely can make it a habit to walk at least 3 hours per week.
Dr. Jacob Haus and his collaborators found that those with fatty liver disease who walked on a treadmill at 85% of their maximum heart rate for one hour per day for seven consecutive days exhibited several statistically significant fatty liver improvements.
These improvements included:
- A 84% increase in the liver’s polyunsaturated liver index, an indication of an improvement in liver health
- An increase in insulin sensitivity, an indication that the body is better able to manage blood sugar – thus reducing fat accumulation
- An increase in adiponectin levels, an indication that fat is being better metabolized
- A decrease in the production of reactive oxygen species, an indication that less oxidative damage is occurring
Dr. Jabcob Haus says, “Exercise appears to affect the cumulative metabolic risk factors for the progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. We like to think of exercise as medicine.”
According to Arthur McCullough, MD, and Bobby Zervos, DO, there is no one specific treatment for fatty liver disease, but lifestyle changes are often recommended. These include diet modifications to promote weight loss, regular exercise and elimination of alcohol.
Keep Your Liver Healthy By Using Alcohol Responsibly
Alcohol can damage or destroy liver cells, eventually causing permanent scarring which impedes or even ceases liver function.
Binge drinking, which is defined as any pattern or episode of drinking which causes a blood alcohol content greater than 0.08g/dL, can accelerate liver damage.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that even a single alcohol binge can cause bacteria to leak from the gut and increase levels of bacterial toxins in the blood.
Increased levels of these bacterial toxins, called endotoxins, have been shown to affect the immune system, with the body producing more immune cells involved in fever, inflammation, and tissue destruction.
It is suggested by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention that if you’re a woman, you should restrict your consumption to one alcoholic drink per day. And men should have only two alcoholic drinks per day.
Your Liver and The Use of Illicit – Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drugs
The National Institute On Drug Abuse says that chronic use of some drugs, such as heroin, inhalants, and steroids (appearance and performance enhancing drugs), can lead to significant damage to the liver.
These substances damage the liver by triggering an abnormal buildup of fat cells, harmful levels of inflammation, low output of a digestive fluid called bile, the outright death of individual liver cells, or even potentially fatal liver failure.
This can also happen with over use of prescription and over-the-counter or nonprescription drugs.
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, the best known (over-the-counter) medication that can damage the liver is acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol®.
This medication is widely available without prescription and is present in many of the cold and flu remedies sold in drugstores as well as in prescription pain medications. Most pain medications that are labeled as “non-aspirin” have acetaminophen as its main ingredient.
Supplements and Herbs
Supplements and herbs, despite being “natural” can be toxic to the liver. The production and distribution of these supplements is not regulated as carefully as the production of prescription medications. “Natural” products can be sold with little testing and with no proof of efficacy.
Sometimes the herb or supplement itself can cause liver damage. In other cases, impurities or toxins introduced during the preparation of the product may be toxic to the liver.
Some of the natural products known to be toxic to the liver include chaparral, comfrey tea, kava, skullcap, and yohimbe, but there are many others.
Even vitamin supplements and dietary supplements, such as weight losing products, can be harmful. Too much iron or vitamin A can result in significant liver damage.
Generally speaking, you do not need to take iron supplements unless you have been diagnosed with iron deficiency. Vitamin A dose should never exceed 5,000 units a day, unless provided as beta-carotene – Source: American College of Gastroenterology