January is the perfect time to kickstart the year with healthy habits like loving your liver.
Your liver is an incredible organ that performs over 500 jobs to keep your body functioning. The liver works hard to process food into energy, filter blood, break down poisonous substances like alcohol and drugs, helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and regulate metabolism. When your liver is healthy, your whole body benefits.
9 in 10 cases of liver disease is preventable, with the three main causes being drinking too much alcohol, obesity and viral hepatitis.
The liver is extremely resilient with the amazing ability to repair itself when damaged. Due to its regenerative properties, it can take a lot of abuse, but like an elastic band, it can only take so much before it breaks to a point when damage can’t be reversed.
Unfortunately, in many cases, people with liver disease don’t get symptoms or know there’s a problem until the disease has progressed to a point where it is too late for any effective treatment or intervention.
However, there are lots of ways you can be proactive in lowering your risk of liver disease by making healthier choices in your day-to-day life.
Here’s three ways you can Love Your Liver this January:
1. Reduce your alcohol intake.
Your liver plays a big role in processing the alcohol that you drink. Regularly drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol can take a toll on your liver. This can lead to alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) and even liver cancer.
If you do choose to drink, it’s recommended by NICE that men and women should drink no more than 14 units per week.
You can also give your liver a regular break by having 2 to 3 consecutive alcohol-free days every week. This will give the cells in your liver a chance to repair itself.
You can find out more about understanding units, and with taking the first steps to cut down on alcohol here.
2. Keep a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
Being overweight increases your risk of metabolic (dysfunction)-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD), formally known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which over time can cause lasting liver damage.
Opting for fresh fruit and vegetables, reducing your portion sizes and cutting down on saturated fats and sugar intake will help you maintain a healthy weight.
Staying active is a great way to reduce the risk of MAFLD. Just 30 minutes a day of regular exercise is beneficial to not only your liver health but your entire body and mental wellbeing.
3. Protect yourself from viral hepatitis.
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. This can be caused by lots of things including several viruses. The most common are forms of viral hepatitis B and C.
Most people with hepatitis B got the virus when they were born or as a small child. Many mothers may be unaware that they have hepatitis B infection and may pass it on to baby. Vaccines and treatments are available that can stop the spread of the virus.
Hepatitis C is typically passed on by blood to blood contact. Symptoms may not show for months or even years after picking up the virus. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, but there is effective treatment available to get rid of the virus.
To reduce the risk of being exposed to the virus:
- Never share needles, syringes, or other drug equipment with someone else
- Use a condom or dam during sex
- Never share razors, nail scissors or a toothbrush
- Only use licensed tattoo, piercing and botox studios and make sure all equipment used has been sterilised
- Cover wounds, especially when playing sports
- If you need medical treatment abroad make sure only sterile equipment is used
How you can love your liver in January and all year round
You can take our confidential screener to find out if you’re at risk of liver disease.
Take a pledge to love your liver and make a change that will improve your liver health. You can choose to:
- Ditch to give up takeaways and processed foods
- Cut down on sugary foods and drinks
- Eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
- Commit to a fitness challenge
- Give up alcohol