You only have one liver. Yet most people don’t give much thought to their livers and the vital function it serves.
But they should. Liver disease—and there are more than 100 types—is not something that just happens to someone else, it can happen to you.
The good news is that you can protect yourself. Here are 5 ways.
Eat a well-balanced diet to maintain a healthy liver and choose fruits and vegetables the color of the rainbow, which will help ensure that your body receives the nutrients it needs. Stay hydrated: Drink water consistently throughout the day.
The next time you’re at the supermarket, add these items to your shopping list:
A wide variety of fruits and vegetables, especially berries and leafy dark greens, whole grains, beans, low-fat dairy and healthy fats, such as avocados. Salmon is also a power food. It is a great source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which deliver a wide range of health benefits. And don’t forget sweet potatoes, which are high in beta-carotene and vitamin A. Add spices to your grocery cart as well. Cinnamon is packed with antioxidants, which help your body reduce inflammation and fight infection.
Here’s what you should leave off your shopping list:
Foods high in salt, added sugars, saturated fats and trans fats (also labeled as partially hydrogenated oils). To avoid the “bad” fats, stay away from fatty meats, fried foods, cakes and cookies. Drink alcohol in moderation.
Invite family members to join you in your healthy lifestyle. It’ll be more fun eating healthy with others.
Exercise is a vital part of your life for a healthy liver and one of the easiest ways is to just keep moving and find ways throughout your day to be more active.
Leave your car at home. Take a 20-minute walk at a reasonable pace every day and climb stairs instead of taking the elevator. If the weather doesn’t allow outdoor activity, especially at this time of the year, head over to the mall. And you would be surprised what a workout you can get while doing household chores, such as vacuuming and dusting.
In the office, walk over to colleagues instead of emailing.
All of these “small steps” can make a big difference in helping you become more active.
As in the case of healthy eating, walking with relatives or friends can turn your exercise routine into an enjoyable social get-together you really look forward to! What better way to love your liver?
The message is an often repeated one: there is an obesity epidemic in this country and alarmingly so in children. And there is a direct correlation between obesity and the development of fatty liver disease, one of the most common causes of chronic liver disease. While it is normal for the liver to contain some fat, more then 5% to 10% puts you at risk for fatty liver disease. It causes inflammation and in its most severe forms can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.
In addition to adhering to a healthier diet and keeping on the go by exercising, there are other things you can do that will cause some of those pounds to melt away. They just take determination and practice.
Maintain a positive outlook because feeling stressed can lead to “emotional eating.” Physical activity, meditation and deep breathing are great ways to relieve stress.
Another good practice for improved liver wellness is to get sufficient sleep – at least seven or eight hours. Studies show that sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain.
If you haven’t committed to being an organ donor, now is the perfect time. It is one of the most selfless things you can do and gives another person a second chance at life.
Even if you have certain health issues, including problems with your liver, don’t assume you can’t be an organ donor.
And you are never too old to donate. The oldest deceased liver donor in the United States was 92 years old.
Needless to say, if you should ever need a new liver or any other organ, you would hope that others have decided to give the gift of life.
The easiest way to become a donor is to enroll with your state’s organ donor registry. You can find it online at Donate Life.
If you were born between 1945 and 1965, please follow the recommendation to arrange a hepatitis C blood test.
Baby boomers are five times more likely to have the virus. The trouble is many people were infected with the virus decades ago and because they display no symptoms, they don’t realize they’re at risk. So resolve as soon as possible to get screened. For more information, read our feature article about baby boomers and hepatitis C.
The encouraging news is that if you do test positive for hepatitis C, there are advances in treatments that offer the possibility of cures for many people.