The liver is a truly vital organ: it helps the body process the fats and carbohydrates from everything we eat and detoxify itself from the drugs, chemicals and toxins we encounter every day. The liver doesn’t need much help from us, but it does require constant support. This includes avoiding certain unhealthy habits that cause inflammation, potentially leading to liver disorders and liver failure. These are the most common ways you are ruining your liver, according to experts. Read on to find out more and to ensure your health and that of others, don’t miss out on these Sure signs you’ve already had COVID.
“The greatest threat to the liver today is fatty liver, or NAFLD, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease,” says Ohio-based gastroenterologist. Dr. Jesse P. Houghton. “This is an extremely common condition present in 30% of Americans.” Over time, fatty liver can lead to a condition called NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis), an inflammation that can lead to cirrhosis.
The main risk factors for fatty liver are obesity, diabetes, and a high intake of sugary drinks and products containing high-fructose corn syrup, says Houghton. The most effective treatment is weight loss. “Losing weight will bring fat out of the liver. Even 10% weight loss will help significantly,” she says. Controlling your blood sugar is also essential. Drinking coffee (which contains a liver-beneficial antioxidant) can also be helpful.
“Drinking too much alcohol too regularly, more than one standard drink a day, can wreak havoc on our liver causing scarring,” he says. Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, senior dietician at UCLA Medical Center and author of the book Recipe for Survival. “If prolonged, this can cause alcoholic liver disease and potentially cirrhosis, which can lead to the need for a liver transplant.”
“Trans fats are terrible for your liver,” says Dr. Anthony Puopolo, chief physician at RexMD. “Trans fats are unable to be processed effectively by the liver and cause inflammation of the liver cells. Eating large amounts of trans fats can cause permanent liver damage and scarring.” Trans fats are found in some fried foods and baked goods and in foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Be sure to check the nutrition fact labels, where the trans fat content is listed.
“Ultra processed foods damage the liver by causing inflammation and fat deposition,” says Hunnes. This can lead to fatty liver. “Consuming too many refined or ultra-processed foods and drinks, such as sugary or sugary drinks with high-fructose corn syrup, for too long can lead to cirrhosis and the need for a liver transplant,” she says. Having too much visceral fat (the type of fat that resides in and around organs) can also increase that risk.
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“It is known that excess alcohol is harmful to the liver and can eventually cause cirrhosis. However, cigarette smoking is also harmful to the liver, especially if someone already has some underlying damage to the liver, such as from alcohol or fatty liver, “says Houghton.
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“Alcohol intake and extreme diets, such as high-fat / low-carb and unnecessary herbal and dietary supplements (which may include protein powders) are the two most common patterns of harm. liver disease that I see in my clinic, “he says Dr. Vanessa Méndez, a triple board certified gastroenterologist, internist, and lifestyle medicine physician in Florida. “The liver does a great job of clearing our blood of the excess chemicals and fats we introduce into our bodies every day. However, when we overload our detox pathways with unnecessary supplements, fats or toxins like alcohol, we disrupt our liver’s ability to cleanse the body, which results in a buildup of chemicals that are harmful to the liver. “
“We should become wise and insightful consumers of supplements, just as we are of prescription drugs,” says Méndez. Make sure all supplements you are taking are from a reputable manufacturer. And it’s always a good idea to tell your doctor about any supplements you’re taking and before starting a new one.
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“There are many simple ways to support optimal liver function on a daily basis that do not require a radical dietary restructuring or the purchase of a trendy cleansing product,” he says. Dr. Jaclyn Tolentino, senior physician at Parsley Health. “One of the best ways is to increase water intake. Water keeps the things we put in our bodies moving, so we eliminate as we absorb new things.”
A healthy diet rich in certain whole foods can also help. “Research suggests that certain foods may be particularly helpful in increasing liver function, including cruciferous and leafy greens, ginger and blueberries,” says Tolentino. “These foods offer a host of other health benefits, so adding them to your diet is a great way to boost the nutrient profile of your meals.”
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