Is your lifestyle harming your liver?
19 November 2015, 11:06
If your body were a car, your liver would be the engine, performing more than 500 intricate tasks to keep it running quietly and efficiently, from fighting infection and neutralising toxins to manufacturing proteins and hormones, controlling blood sugar, and helping your blood to clot.
And like a car, your liver depends on you to service it regularly. Else one day, without warning, it may stall with a major malfunction. There are up to a hundred known causes of liver disease, from cirrhosis to liver cancer.
To have your liver well-serviced requires avoiding drugs, excess alcohol and environmental pollutants - the equivalent to putting dirty oil in your car, which can set you up for serious liver damage. If necessary, moderate your alcohol intake - you should have no more than one drink a day if a woman and two a day if a man, to avoid harming your liver.
You also need to put the right things into your body to ensure optimal liver function -- healthy foods and plenty of fresh air. Numerous chronic liver diseases are associated with malnutrition, and while poor nutrition is rarely the cause of them, good nutrition in the form of a balanced diet can help damaged liver cells regenerate and form new cells.
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A condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) can cause cirrhosis, where normal liver cells are replaced by scar tissue. NAFLD comes from high levels of fat in your blood, carrying too much weight or having diabetes. To prevent it you need to shed those excess kilos by getting regular moderate exercise and eating sensibly.
Finally, for a healthy liver you need to find ways to deal with stress, such as exercise, meditation, absorbing hobbies and time with positive friends. This has been identified in recent years as an important factor in the development and outcomes of several liver diseases.
Fortunately, unlike the engine of your car, your liver has a special power: even if more than 50 percent of its overall mass is damaged – for instance, by excess alcohol - this unique organ can regenerate itself completely.
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