Hepatitis is Only One of The Diseases Affecting Liver Health That You Can Prevent or Treat to Keep Your Body Functioning Well
A healthy liver is a big part of your well-being. Many individuals don’t give that hard-working organ much thought until it fails. Pegasus caregivers in Hidden Hills and elsewhere have compiled the facts you need to keep yours in good working order.
Your liver is about the size of a football. Weighing around three pounds, it’s your largest internal organ. It’s located on the right side of your abdomen, just under your rib cage.
If It Enters Your Body, Your Liver Processes It
Everything you eat, drink, or otherwise put in your body is the business of your liver. It filters your blood and breaks down chemicals. It helps digest food and rids your body of toxins.
When toxins overwhelm the liver, it stops functioning correctly. Liver disease means that something has weakened the organ.
Medically, anything to do with the liver is designated hepatic. There are many causes of decreased hepatic function. These are often categorized as infection, immune system malfunction, genetic, or other.
You can’t do much about your genetic heritage. Immune system disorders are also often beyond your control. You can minimize your risk of infection and other risk factors.
Infection frequently results from viruses, especially the hepatitis viruses. These include hepatitis A, B, and C viruses. Parasites are another source of liver infections.
The other category includes damage from alcohol abuse. It also includes nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Obesity is the primary cause of NAFLD.
The various liver diseases, abuse, and obesity lead to cell damage and scarring. Medically, the scarring is known as cirrhosis. Cirrhosis of the liver is the scar tissue formed when a damaged liver tried to repair itself.
Lifestyle Affects Liver Health
Keeping your liver healthy includes the same lifestyle practices that contribute to your overall well-being. That starts with minimizing your intake of alcohol. Alcohol is a huge contributor to liver disease because it damages and kills cells.
Liver-friendly diets are a healthy way of eating. Try to eat meals that are balanced among the main food groups. As well as good for your liver, healthy meals can reduce obesity.
Try for meals that are high in fiber. High-fiber foods include vegetables and whole grains. Consume the “good fats,” such as those found in nuts, seeds, and fish.
Minimize the amount of red meat you eat. Minimize consumption of sugar, salt, and fried foods. To the extent possible, avoid refined carbohydrates, which include:
- White bread
- White rice
- Ice cream
Refined carbs are stripped of fiber and nutrients.
Pegasus knows that dietary changes can be difficult, especially when it means cutting back on favorite foods. Our dietitians can help you with meal planning. Our caregiving services include grocery shopping and meal preparation when needed.
One thing you don’t have to give up is coffee. Your liver loves coffee. Coffee:
- Lowers the risk of cirrhosis
- Reduces the risk of developing one kind of liver cancer
- Prevents the buildup of fat (the culprit responsible for NAFLD)
- Decreases inflammation
- Increases antioxidants
Drink your coffee black if you can.
Black and green tea also are helpful in maintaining liver health. However, check with a doctor first before consuming more than minimal amounts of green tea. It can have an adverse effect on some liver diseases in some people.
If you’re injecting medications, such as insulin, or using illegal drugs, don’t reuse needles. Protect yourself from contact with the body fluids and blood of others. If you choose to have tattoos or body piercings, make sure the needles are sterilized.
Vaccination Reduces the Deadliness of Hepatitis
Hepatitis is the primary cause of liver damage. Untreated hepatitis can be life-threatening. Talk to your doctor about vaccination even if you’re already infected.
Discuss all your medications with your doctor. Certain meds are difficult for the liver to process. Follow the recommended dosage instructions to avoid overloading your liver.
Your doctor also needs to know about any supplements or herbs you’re consuming. Some can interact with certain meds. That can overload your liver.
Read the labels of all over-the-counter drugs. You need to understand and follow the instructions to decrease your risk of damaging your liver. Your liver has to work to filter chemicals, prescribed or OTC, from your bloodstream.
Environmental pollutants are another source of chemicals that your liver has to process. You probably are careful to use pesticides and insecticides in ventilated areas. The same precautions apply to household cleaning products and aerosol sprays.
Remember that many of these products can be absorbed through your skin. Protect your skin from coming into contact with any toxic product.
October is National Liver Awareness Month. It’s an opportunity to learn how to maintain liver health. Pegasus professionals in Hidden Hills and our other locations can help you if you need to make lifestyle changes.
Our team of expert caregivers knows that liver disease, even hepatitis, is treatable. Even if not always cured, long-term results are positive if the condition is treated and managed correctly. We’re always here for you regardless of the level of help or care you might need.