Here are the answers to 9 of the most common questions about one of your body’s largest and most important internal organs. If you’re a healthy person, you don’t necessarily think about your liver. And for good reason: The only time this organ seems to attract attention is when it stops working. Still, since the liver plays such a vital role in your health, it makes sense to educate yourself about it, especially if you have a history of liver problems.
Here are the answers to nine common questions about the liver
1. What does my liver do?
The liver is one of the most stressed organs in your body and performs hundreds of functions. Not only does it remove toxins from your blood, but it also produces bile, which is used for digestion, and provides you with more energy than even the most superfood-rich smoothies. Indeed, scientists once considered it not only the center of the body, but also the most critical organ.
2. How can I keep my liver healthy?
The simple answer is to follow a healthy lifestyle. This involves eating whole, nutritious foods and exercising regularly. But there are even more essential strategies for keeping your liver healthy, including reducing your alcohol intake, keeping your body mass index (BMI), which takes into account your height and weight, below of 30, and diabetes control (even prevention of diabetes in the first place, if possible). These habits help the liver to function as it should.
3. How does being overweight or obese affect my liver?
Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly will make it easier for you to keep your BMI in a healthy range. Any number between 25 and 29 is considered overweight, and any number over 30 is considered obese. (Note, however, that BMI is not a perfect measure, and the ranges and their implications for health vary among populations). Obesity, in particular, is linked to fatty liver disease, which in turn can contribute to liver scarring or cirrhosis and liver failure. If weight is an issue, strive to lose 10% of your current weight, which can benefit liver health.
4. What is the best diet to follow for liver health?
While there’s no such thing as a liver diet, strictly speaking, calorie control is helpful if you need to lower your BMI. Opt for the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits and vegetables. For what ? Not only is calorie control easier on this diet because it emphasizes naturally lean plant foods, but this diet also helps regulate glucose levels. Excess glucose is converted to fat in the liver, which may play a role in the development of fatty liver disease.
Here are some other useful recommendations for liver health:
Choose fiber-rich foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads, rice, and cereals.
Avoid foods high in saturated fat, sugar and salt. This includes fried foods.
Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and allow your liver to function optimally.
Talk to your doctor about your alcohol consumption.
5. How can alcohol harm the liver?
As for alcohol, a maximum of two drinks per day is recommended for healthy men and one drink per day for healthy women. And if you’re not a drinker, don’t start. A study published in the September 2018 journal The Lancet examined the effects of alcohol consumption on the risk of chronic disease and premature death. The study found that there was a gradual increase in mortality and cancer with increasing amounts of alcohol, which is why they concluded that any amount of alcohol is harmful to the body. Zero glass is the safest number.
Abstain from alcohol if you have liver problems. If abstinence is not possible, limit your alcohol intake to four to six drinks per week and two drinks per 24 hour period. This is the time during which the liver can safely metabolize alcohol. If you drink more than that, especially if you’re trying to rack up all your drinks in one or two nights, your liver will suffer.
6. What symptoms will I notice if my liver is not working properly?
Spotting liver problems can be difficult, especially because symptoms usually don’t show up until it’s too late, and many problems with this organ can look like unrelated health issues. Liver disease tends to be a silent killer, and the absence of symptoms doesn’t mean the problem isn’t serious.
In general, pay attention to these warning signs:
urine the color of iced tea
yellowing of the eyes (jaundice)
Stools that look like clay
Itching that won’t go away and keeps you up at night.
Swelling of the abdomen
7. Should I have my liver tested even if I am healthy?
You may benefit from a liver test even if you are in good health, especially if you have certain risk factors. For example, if you regularly drink alcohol or have a family history of liver disease. Ask your GP if you need a liver function test, or the liver, which is part of a comprehensive metabolic panel. This panel checks several bodily functions, including the liver, through a blood test.
Know that an abnormal result for your liver does not mean that you have a problem. Lots of little things, like viruses, chemicals, and toxins, can affect a liver test. If the result is abnormal, you will need to see your doctor to determine if there is a problem.
8. Should I be tested for hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C, a contagious liver disease that is spread primarily through contact with the blood of someone infected with the virus, was once a much more serious problem. Although still a concern, new treatments developed in 2014 have enabled doctors to cure a large number of patients. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. All adults should be tested for hepatitis C at least once in their lifetime.
These risk factors are:
Injection drug use now or in the past, even if only once many years ago.
be infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
Certain medical conditions, including people who have received maintenance hemodialysis and those who have persistent abnormal levels of alanine aminotransferase, an enzyme found in liver cells.
Being the son or daughter of a mother with hepatitis C.
Having multiple sex partners
9. What is my prognosis if I am diagnosed with any type of liver disease?
Because the liver is a resilient organ, liver disease results, especially when spotted at an early stage, such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, hepatitis C, and genetic diseases (such as Wilson’s disease and hemochromatosis ), are generally good. The liver has a greater capacity for regeneration and repair than any other organ.
However, it is vital to deal with problems at an early stage. Take, for example, hepatitis C, which can be cured in 95% of patients when detected at an early stage, thanks to relatively new treatment options. But cure rates drop below 90% when the disease is diagnosed later. If problems persist, the liver may be damaged beyond repair. As problems can be difficult to spot, it is essential to have your liver checked regularly.