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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How to Love Your Liver

Loving your liver is pretty easy when you know how to protect it. Here are 12 tips you can follow every day for good liver health.
Maintain a healthy weight

If you carry any excess weight around your middle, it can cause insulin resistance which often leads to fatty liver disease. Measure your middle and keep it at a healthy circumference. Men should maintain a waist of less than 102cm and women, less than 88cm. Exercising and eating a diet that’s low in fat and high in fibre, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals will help you maintain a healthy weight and liver.

Avoid fad diets

Fad diets that add weight to the body can put excessive stress on the liver. Avoid any products that promise large amounts of weight loss in an unrealistic short period of time. These diets are usually lacking in essential nutrients and are not beneficial. Aim to lose weight at a healthy rate of half to one kilogram per week.

Liver cleansing and detox diets should also be avoided. Contrary to popular belief, no particular diet is liver cleansing, but a healthy diet improves wellbeing.

Limit your fat intake

High levels of fat in the blood (hyperlipidaemia) and high levels of cholesterol (hypercholesterolaemia) are common causes of fatty liver disease. It is good to keep low levels by taking low fat. And of the little fat that is taken, make sure it is unsaturated (poly- and monounsaturated fats). If a low fat diet isn’t working, speak to your doctor about medications that can help.

Drink alcohol in moderation

Sensible consumption of alcohol is critical to good health. While alcoholism is more common among men, women are more susceptible to the adverse effects of alcohol on the liver. In fact, it takes as little as 20 grams of alcohol daily (only two standard drinks) for women to develop liver problems. If you can’t cut back, talk to your doctor about getting professional help.

Go for regular blood tests

A blood test is the best way to keep a keen eye on the levels of fat, cholesterol and glucose in your blood – all of which are associated with fatty liver disease. Too much glucose can be an indication that you have Impaired Glucose Tolerance or Diabetes – in both cases you’ll need to carefully control your blood sugar levels through diet, medications and/or weight loss.

Have you ever experimented with intravenous drugs? Did you have a blood transfusion, or organ transplant prior to 1992? If so, make sure you get tested for hepatitis C.

Quit smoking

It’s been proven that smoking cigarettes is linked to the development of liver cancer. Smoking can also enhance the toxic effects that some medications (such as Paracetamol) have on the liver.

Get a jab

Talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. If you choose not to get vaccinated against hepatitis A, make sure you avoid sushi, or raw/partially cooked clams, oysters, mussels and scallops, as these fish often live in hepatitis A-contaminated rivers and seas. If you choose not to get vaccinated against hepatitis B, then practice safer sex.


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