The liver is one of the largest and most important organs in the human body. It processes nutrients, builds proteins, and removes toxins from the body. It is often referred to as a “resilient” organ by the medical establishment; however, liver function can be seriously weakened if we don’t treat it properly.
For decades research has supported the thought that liver health depends largely on lifestyle. Whether we eat a healthy diet, participate in regular exercise, get enough fresh air, and avoid unhealthy vices, can determine the long-term outcome of our liver function.
Poor Liver Function and Food Choices
Since our liver acts as a filter, there are many things that can impact it. Some lifestyle choices can be more harmful than others though.
Gastrointestinal specialists say the standard American diet is not very good for the liver. Fast food is a no-no. A recent U.S study shows that fast food consumption can lead to a condition called, “fatty liver”. The research demonstrates that after just 4 weeks of consistently eating fast food, there are big changes in the liver; changes that resemble hepatitis and can lead to liver failure. Eating foods that are rich in flavonoids, iron, magnesium, selenium and B-vitamins is a way to ensure good liver health.
These nutrients can help your liver detoxify your body. Consuming more fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts can help us to achieve better liver function. Foods rich in antioxidants such as, broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts can help stop free radicals and help detoxify the body.
What the Research on Liver Function Says
Over the last few years more research says that carbohydrates are killing us. Too many carbs are causing fatty build-up in the liver of thousands of Americans and this can lead to liver dysfunction. According to a study by UT Southwestern Medical Center, cutting carbohydrates is more effective in reducing fat in the liver than reducing calories. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition did point out that if your doctor tells you that you should do something about fatty build-up in your liver, you can reverse some of the damage within a month by changing your eating habits. The key is to catch the problem.
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One of the leading causes of liver failure in both the United States and the United Kingdom is drug induced liver problems. Drug induced liver injury is caused by either physician prescribed medications, over-the-counter medications, illegal drugs, over-use of vitamins and herbs or even environmental toxins. Long term use of medications when closely monitored by a doctor shouldn’t cause problems, but when directions are not followed properly serious problems can arise. Misuse of acetaminophen is one of the biggest causes of drug induced liver injury in the U.S.
Liver Health and What You Drink
What you drink is important to your liver health as well. We all know that too much alcohol can have a serious affect on the liver. Close to 30 thousand Americans die every year from cirrhosis of the liver. It is either caused by alcohol or hepatitis C. There is no cure, except is some cases people have the option of getting a liver transplant. The average liver can handle moderate alcohol consumption, but studies show that 50 per cent of excessive drinkers experience some or all of the symptoms associated with alcohol induced liver damage. Those symptoms include:
- Fat deposits in liver
- Discoloration of skin
- Swelling of abdomen
- Inflammation of liver tissue
- Abdominal pain
What you combine with drinking can also impact your liver. For instance, you may not be a heavy drinker, but you should never take acetaminophen with alcohol. Some research indicates that the two combined can destroy liver cells.