Alcohol is not the only cause of liver damage. Find out what other factors can harm the liver and how can you keep it healthy.
It is widely believed that the only thing that damages a liver is heavy alcohol consumption. But that’s not the only cause of liver damage. The liver is the largest internal organ of the body and is involved in more than 500 different functions including digestion, metabolism, nutrients’ storage and removal of toxins. So, there can be several things and health conditions that can unknowingly cause liver damage. Loss of appetite, vomiting and nausea are a few common symptoms of liver damage. But many times these are mistaken for indigestion and liver damage can go unnoticed, hence, you should be aware of a few things that can damage the liver.
- Alcohol: It is known that alcohol is bad for your liver. When you drink alcohol, the liver gets diverted from its other functions and focuses mainly on converting alcohol to a less toxic form. Absorption of alcohol by the liver causes fatty liver disease, inflammation of the liver and cirrhosis.
- Obesity: People who are obese have an excess amount of body fat which tends to accumulate around the liver, causing what is known as a fatty liver disease. Obesity is also linked to cirrhosis of liver and liver failure.
- Diabetes: Diabetes increases the risk of liver disease by 50 percent. People with diabetes due to insulin resistance have high levels of insulin in their blood, which triggers abdominal weight gain. This causes the liver to store fat internally, causing fatty liver disease.
- High salt intake: High salt intake is well known to increase blood pressure, but it can also cause fatty liver disease by building up fluid in the liver (water retention) and swelling it up. Cutting down on processed is one of the many ways to reduce your salt intake.
- Smoking: Although cigarette smoke does not have a direct effect on liver function, harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke increase the oxidative stress of the system after reaching the liver, causing irreversible damaging to the liver cells.
- Overuse of Medications: Overuse of over-the-counter drugs and certain prescription drugs is known to cause liver damage. Some of these drugs include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, corticosteroids (used for treating inflammation) and pain relievers. It’s therefore important to review the side effects and adverse effects of medications before taking them.
Tips to have a healthy liver:
- Maintain a weight by avoiding fatty foods and staying fit. Replace junk foods with healthy foods from all food groups such as grains, fruits, dairy products, and vegetables. Avoid fad diets which might expose your liver to stressful conditions. Exercise regularly to burn excess fat, if you are overweight. You can also follow these diet tips for liver disease.
- Before taking any medicine, look for warnings of liver toxicity on the label. Follow dosage recommended by your doctor. Consult your doctor if you are taking multiple medications for different conditions to ensure they are not damaging your liver.
- Good hygiene plays an important role in preventing viral infections. Hepatitis infection can be contracted through contaminated food, water, blood and other body fluids, especially when you are travelling abroad. Check for outbreaks before travelling. Do not share razors or needles with anyone. Be cautious about conditions while body piercing or tattooing. You could consider vaccination against hepatitis.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Instead of having coffee, tea or aerated drinks, have fresh fruit juices and loads of water. This will help the liver to detoxify the system.
- Quit smoking. Smoking not only damages the liver by itself but also increases the toxic effect of medicines you might be taking on the liver.
- Limit alcohol intake. The more you drink, the more likely you are to damage your liver. If you have diabetes or hypertension, get a medical checkup done regularly. Keep a check on your glucose, fat and cholesterol levels which might cause fatty liver disease.
Your liver has a remarkable regenerative capacity and ability to heal itself. By over-indulging in unhealthy habits, you are abusing your liver and inviting life-threatening complications for yourself.