Keep Your Liver Healthy
by Joseph D. Tabora, M.D.
This article starts below.
There are four things you can do to keep your liver healthy:
- Cut down on alcoholic drinks. Every ounce of alcohol that you drink passes through the liver to be metabolized. Excessive alcohol intake unnecessarily strains the liver, damaging the liver cells. The scarring of the liver brought about by the chronic damage causes alcoholic liver cirrhosis, an irreversible condition, treatable only by liver transplant. Aside from cirrhosis, excessive alcohol intake may also cause alcoholic fatty infiltration and alcoholic hepatitis.
- Protect yourself from Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is a viral infection that may lead to cirrhosis and cancer of the liver (hepatocellular carcinoma). The best way to be protected from Hepatitis B is to get vaccinated. The full vaccination includes three doses. Medical and paramedical personnel who are exposed to blood and blood products must by adequately immunized. Non-medical personnel who also want to be protected should receive the vaccine.
- Watch your weight. Fat deposits form not only around the waist or thighs, but also on the liver. Accumulation of fat in the liver leads to fatty infiltration of the liver. While there are many steps involved in the metabolism of fat, dietary intake is an easily modifiable step. Fat deposits form when caloric intake exceeds caloric expenditure. The way to trim fat deposits is to decrease caloric intake (by focusing on low-calorie fruits and vegetables) and increasing caloric expenditure (by doing more physical activity). A net caloric deficit will metabolize fat deposits as a source of energy, thereby trimming the fats.
- Decrease contraceptive pill use. Hepatic adenoma is a benign tumor of the liver that is seen more frequently in women taking contraceptives. A hepatic adenoma may produce pain and may rupture, causing profuse internal bleeding. Decreasing the use of contraceptive pills may reduce the risk of developing a liver adenoma.
These four steps will go a long way to keep your liver healthy.