5 Ways To Care For Your Liver
Did you know that the liver is responsible for more than 500 vital functions? The liver is a cone-shaped organ located in the upper right-hand area of the abdomen. All of the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver, breaking down, balancing, and creating vital nutrients necessary for optimal health. Knowing how to care for your liver is crucial in maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.
Ways To Care For Your Liver
At Birmingham Gastroenterology, we understand the repercussions of an unhealthy liver due to diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and pancreatitis. More than 30 million people in the United States have some form of liver disease. With this organ’s regulating capabilities and vital functions, we compiled a list of 5 ways to care for your liver.
- Maintain A Healthy Diet
One of the best methods to care for your liver is to maintain a healthy and well-rounded diet. Nutrients like vitamins D, E, C, B, iron, and fiber are crucial for liver health. Some foods to keep your liver in tip-top shape include:
- Fatty fish
Some foods to avoid when trying to care for your liver include alcohol, fried or fatty foods, added salt or sugar, red meat, and white bread. These foods are often connected to weight gain and increased blood sugar— two things that can lead to fatty liver disease.
- Exercise Regularly
Exercising regularly is something anyone can do to boost overall well-being. In fact, the National Library of Medicine suggests that increasing physical activity through exercise has a direct correlation to improving fatty liver disease. If you are new to exercising, start slow and build up. For example, begin with shorter workouts and gradually increase over time. Walking, light resistance training and stretching are great places to start.
- Limit Alcohol Consumption
There are two main types of fatty liver disease— non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD). NAFLD is linked to overweight or obesity, insulin resistance, high blood sugar, and high levels of fat. AFLD is tied to heavy alcohol consumption. Alcohol is directly linked to damaging or destroying liver cells and cirrhosis, which can cause irreversible liver scarring. A great way to care for your liver is to limit alcohol consumption or, even better, give it up altogether.
- Avoid Liver-Damaging Toxins
Certain toxins can injure liver cells, and high exposure levels can lead to toxic liver disease or hepatotoxicity. WebMD suggests certain medications, herbal supplements, chemical solvents, and alcohol may be at the forefront of hepatotoxicity. In order to care for your liver, be aware of what you are putting into your body, along with possible hazardous chemicals and solvents at home or in the workplace.
5. Hepatitis C Screening
Hepatitis C (HCV) is the most common chronic bloodborne pathogen in the United States and a leading cause of chronic liver disease. In 2020, the United States Preventative Task Force (USPTF) updated its guidelines to recommend that all adults aged 18 to 79 years be screened at least once in their lifetime. The screening consists of a blood test. Treatment for HCV is very effective and can prevent cirrhosis and further liver damage.
- Screening for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is a common condition with prevalence in the US estimated at 34%. This is particularly concerning because some of these patients may develop Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH), a more aggressive form of fatty liver disease, which can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure. Patients particularly at-risk for NAFLD are those with Type 2 diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and patients with elevated ALTs (blood test checking for liver damage).
These at-risk patients should have bloodwork and imaging to screen for NAFLD. BGA uses FibroScan® technology to accurately assess the amount of fat and scarring in the liver to guide management. While there are no medical treatments available yet, our group is actively involved in clinical trials aimed at treating NAFLD.
Birmingham Gastroenterology Associates specializes in general gastroenterology, including diseases of the pancreas, gallbladder, and liver. We pride ourselves on being a leader in the Birmingham Medical Community for the introduction of the newest medical technologies in gastroenterology and are an industry-selected site for new instrument introductions. If you have more questions about how to care for your liver, make an appointment or give us a call at (205) 271-8000.