Your liver works very hard, and it can be easily damaged if you do not take care of it. A healthy liver is vital to a healthy life. In this blog, we look at the liver’s functions and why it is important. We also explore healthy foods you can eat to keep this vital organ healthy for the long term.
Getting to know your liver
The liver is the second largest organ in your body. This complex organ is widely known for filtering alcohol from our bodies, but its functions are much more varied. Not only does the liver help to filter toxins from the blood, it also aids in digestion of food, regulates blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and helps to fight infections & disease.
It is a half-moon-shaped organ located between the lungs in the right upper abdomen. On average it weighs approximately 1.5 kg. With over 500 functions in the body, its primary focus is to flush out toxins that can be harmful to our bodies while also harvesting nutrients from the food we eat.
The liver is a remarkable organ which has the ability to regenerate itself. Meaning, liver tissue can grow back, to a certain extent, after an injury or surgery to remove tissue.
Common liver problems
Liver disease such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C are common causes of liver damage. Excessive drinking of alcohol and unhealthy lifestyles that lead to obesity also commonly result in liver damage. Although it is not immediately easy to identify liver disease until it is well advanced, you can start spotting symptoms such as loss of appetite, weight loss and jaundice (a medical condition with yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes).
Diet for a healthy liver
Olive oil and Omega 3-rich fatty fish: Omega 3 and omega 6 have many benefits for the liver. Olive oil consumption helps to decrease the levels of fat in the liver and increases blood flow.
Grapefruit, berries and prickly pear: Prickly pear fruit and juice helps with hangover symptoms by reducing inflammation. It also protects the liver from damage caused by alcohol consumption. Studies are lacking in the benefits of grapefruit and berries in human livers, but studies in animals show that these fruits that are rich in antioxidants, have the potential to reduce inflammation and help protect the liver from damage.
Beetroot Juice: This nutrient rich juice helps protect the liver from oxidative damage and inflammation, all while increasing its natural detoxification enzymes. Human studies are needed to cement its usefulness in the bid for a healthy liver.
Lifestyle changes for a healthy liver
To further ensure your body the protection it needs from liver damage, there are a few lifestyle changes you can make:
– Get vaccinated for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B every 5 years
– Exercise regularly
– Talk to your doctor about any medications you may be using that may affect your liver.
– Limit your alcohol intake to relieve the strain causes for your liver.
– Maintain a balanced diet filled with fibre and fatty fishes.
Sources: Healthy Liver