How you take care of your liver can greatly affect your body’s ability to regulate toxins and remove waste from the blood. Ironically, despite it being a vital organ, the liver doesn’t get as much attention as the heart or the lungs.
The reality is, you should keep a close eye on your liver health, as failing to do so can lead to the development of debilitating chronic diseases. Thankfully, caring for your liver can be done easily.
In the Philippines, one in 10 people have Hepatitis B. More people are getting diagnosed with fatty liver and at ages when they aren’t supposed to be having fatty liver. This poses another irony as these diseases are actually highly preventable with a healthy lifestyle.
As you know, prevention is better than cure. Be kind to your body and follow these recommended tips on how to take care of your liver, straight from Maayo Well’s professional doctors:
1. Have a regular schedule for liver function tests.
When it comes to yearly check-ups, make sure to include a liver function test on your to-do list. As one of your vital organs, this should actually be one of your priorities when coming in for your routine diagnostics, especially if you have a family history of liver disease.
Remember: regular checks are important for early detection of diseases so that, in turn, you can seek early treatment for them. The Hospital at Maayo has medical services in Cebu that can help you do just that.
Liver diseases often develop slowly, and are difficult to reverse once acquired. Add to that, you can also appear and feel healthy for a while without knowing that your liver health is declining. With liver function tests, you can spot and treat liver disease earlier; contributing to better outcomes for your health.
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Liver function tests measure the level of proteins and enzymes in your blood to determine your liver’s health. If you’re already on medication, this diagnostic test is important in assessing how well your body is responding to the treatment.
2. Avoid fatty food.
An unhealthy diet can contribute to fatty liver disease, which means exactly what it sounds like: having too much fat in your liver. This causes inflammation that damages the organ and creates scarring, ultimately resulting in liver failure. That said, pay attention to your nutrition. If you need a bit of help, we’ve got different nutrition services to get you started.
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In a healthy liver diet, avoid fried or fatty food, and those that are processed from animal fat, like cheese and butter.
Additionally, you can switch up your diet to include more foods that are good for the liver, like:
- Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables
- Omega-3-rich foods like salmon, tuna, and sardines
- Whole grains.
These food items can either prevent the buildup of fat in the liver, reduce inflammation, and fill you up quickly so that you don’t crave those burgers in the middle of the night.
3. Drink water frequently.
As much as you eat healthy food for your liver, hydration is essential, too. While there are a lot of detox products out there, the best flushing agent is actually simpler and more accessible: water. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water every day will help the liver clean your system.
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On the flip side, dehydration causes the blood to become thicker. It may be harder for the liver to remove toxins in the body when the blood is thick. So remember, drinking water should be part of your liver care.
4. Sleep well.
In a study, scientists found that mice that experienced sleep interruptions were more likely to develop liver problems. The liver’s ability to make glucose and process insulin gets affected when you’re sleep deprived. This increases your risk of developing fatty liver disease (and type 2 diabetes).
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Caring for your liver involves getting enough sleep. If you have trouble dozing off in the night, it will probably help by adjusting your sleeping environment. Lower the temperature of your air conditioning, turn the lights off (including the one from your phone) and close the doors and windows to keep noises down.
5. Avoid toxins that are harmful to the liver.
Constant and prolonged exposure to certain chemicals can increase your risk in developing liver problems. Some chemicals that are harmful to the liver and should be avoided are:
- Vinyl chloride (used in making plastics)
- Paraquat (chemical used in herbicides)
- Ethanol or alcoholic beverages
Some herbal supplements, even though they’re natural, can likewise be harmful. The risk could be greater if you take more than one medicine.
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If your job involves exposure to the mentioned chemicals, make sure to have the right protective equipment to reduce risk. Meanwhile, for the supplements, don’t take anything without consulting your doctor.
6. Maintain a healthy weight.
Obesity is closely linked to liver disease. When fat accumulates in liver cells, this causes inflammation and damage to the organ’s tissues, which is a medical condition called steatohepatitis.
You need to maintain your ideal weight through exercise and a balanced diet. But bear in mind that instead of aiming to weigh 120 pounds or less, you should rely more on assessing if your body mass index (BMI) is within normal ranges. Relying on your measurements on the scale, can only tell you so much, and what is a healthy weight for some, can be an unhealthy one for you.
That said, always establish your weight goal with your BMI in mind. While you can have your doctor or nutritionist determine your BMI, you can also compute for this on your own.
Here’s a quick table to help you determine your body mass index and global standards for interpreting your BMI:
Computing in imperial units
Computing in metric units
|0 to 16.0||Severely underweight|
|16.1 to 18.5||Underweight|
|18.6 to 25||Normal|
|30.1 to 35||Obese|
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If you need to reduce weight, control calorie intake on top of picking healthy food for liver. Be mindful of your food’s portion sizes. If you want to gain weight, on the other hand, squeeze in healthy snacks in between breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Meanwhile, if you’re just getting started on exercise, consider doing aerobics. Increasing your heart rate and the amount of oxygen you breathe in, will speed up the delivery of oxygen to vital organs, including the liver.
7. Exercise regularly.
In line with maintaining a healthy body mass index, exercising regularly is one key factor to keeping a healthy liver. In that regard, it helps to establish a routine that is practical and sustainable so that you stay consistent.
What is a practical and sustainable workout, you ask? Anything that gets you feeling physically challenged for at least 30 minutes a day. That could be brisk walking, running, jumping ropes, or whatever exercise you can stick to and enjoy doing.
The reason most people abandon their fitness routines is because they often make the mistake of setting goals that are not realistic for them at their current fitness level.
That’s why it’s important to keep your workouts simple and set more practical goals if you’re only starting out with establishing your workout routine.
Start out with the ‘easier’ or low-impact workouts and achieve your small small wins so that exercising feels more rewarding and less like a chore you have to do. Eventually, you’ll develop a habit and craving for these small wins, and make a routine of achieving them. Later on, when these simple workouts aren’t challenging you anymore, you can switch up your goals, and build up your fitness to a whole new level.
But ultimately, your goal is to stay healthy and if, for now, you can walk every day for 30 minutes in order to do that, then that’s achieving miles for your health already.
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The liver plays an important role in filtering blood and flushing out toxins. Be kind to this vital organ in your body. Embrace a healthy, active lifestyle and set an appointment with our doctors at Maayo Well to improve liver wellness.