10 Tips for a Healthy Liver: Diet, Supplements, & Lifestyle
Our bodies are so incredible. Even as you're sitting here reading this sentence, a nearly unthinkable amount of events are happening - cells are being created, chemical reactions are occurring, nerves are being stimulated, food is being processed, you get the idea. This, of course, is a lot of work, which is why it's so important for us to take care of our bodies just as they take care of us. One of the most fascinating, and often neglected, organs we have in our hardworking bodies is the liver. When we take care of our livers, they can help flush out the "bad stuff" we ingest and detox the body. When we don't, not only does the liver suffer, so does our overall health.
A Bit About Liver Function
The liver is essentially our body's very own filtration system, that helps us absorb and process food through digestion. Weighing around three pounds, the liver is the largest solid organ in the body and is located on the upper right-hand side of the abdomen under the rib cage. The liver consists of two lobes on the right and left-hand sides. According to Hopkins Medicine, these lobes "Both are made up of 8 segments that consist of 1,000 lobules (small lobes). These lobules are connected to small ducts (tubes) that connect with larger ducts to form the common hepatic duct. The common hepatic duct transports the bile made by the liver cells to the gallbladder and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine)."
The liver helps filter out the toxins from our bodies by excreting a yellowish-green substance called bile that carries waste products away from the liver. This process occurs after the substances we put in our bodies are passed through the blood that leaves our stomach and intestines. While the liver is vital for processing and flushing out toxins from the body, it also plays a vital role in other parts of the body as well. In fact, it plays a role in over 500 other functions in the body, according to Columbia Surgery's Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation, including:
Albumin Production: Albumin is a protein that keeps fluids in the bloodstream from leaking into the surrounding tissue. It also carries hormones, vitamins, and enzymes through the body.
Filters Blood: All the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver, which removes toxins, byproducts, and other harmful substances.
Regulates Amino Acids: The production of proteins depends on amino acids. The liver makes sure amino acid levels in the bloodstream remain healthy.
Regulates Blood Clotting: Blood clotting coagulants are created using vitamin K, which can only be absorbed with the help of bile, a fluid the liver produces.
Resists Infections: As part of the filtering process, the liver also removes bacteria from the bloodstream.
Stores Vitamins and Minerals: The liver stores significant amounts of vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12, as well as iron and copper.
Processes Glucose:The liver removes excess glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream and stores it as glycogen. As needed, it can convert glycogen back into glucose.
Of course, all of these functions occur under the condition that the liver is healthy. When the liver is unhealthy or not functioning at 100%, the following health conditions, and liver problems can occur:
Cirrhosis- Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver and occurs after long-term liver damage. When this scarring occurs, the liver is unable to function properly.
Hepatitis - Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C can all lead to inflammation of the liver. In most cases, hepatitis is a viral disease, but can also be caused by heavy drinking, drugs, allergic reactions, or obesity.
Ascites - Those that experience cirrhosis may also experience fluid, called ascites, leaking into the stomach. This causes the stomach to become distended and heavy.
Liver cancer - One of the most common liver cancers is called hepatocellular carcinoma, and is usually found after cirrhosis occurs.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) - According to the Mayo Clinic, "Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol." Essentially, there are too many fatty liver cells being stored in the liver which may result in something called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which can lead to inflammation of the liver, cirrhosis, and liver failure. This damage is similar to those who have a history of heavy drinking.
Hemochromatosis- Hemochromatosis allows iron to build up in the liver, which damages the organ. It also allows the iron to be deposited in other areas of the body, which can result in other health problems.
Genetics, environmental factors, and medications also have a significant impact on the health of the liver, but with appropriate precautions, maintaining a healthy liver is an attainable goal.
Tips for a Healthy Liver
1. Cut Out the Toxins - Avoid toxins like household cleaning items such as aerosol products, insecticides, chemicals, additives, tobacco smoke, and environmental pollution as much as possible, as these can damage liver cells. If you need to use a chemical or aerosol product do so in a ventilated room with proper protection gear.
2. Keep a Healthy Weight - Those who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of developing fatty liver disease, which can then lead to NAFLD.
3. Clean Up Your Diet... -In general, if you eat a well-balanced, healthy diet you're already at a lower risk of developing liver problems or diseases. That being said, avoid high-calorie meals, fried foods, processed foods, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates (such as white bread, white rice, and regular pasta), and sugars.
4. And Add These Foods! - To ensure a healthy and happy liver, make sure to add foods high in fiber, dairy, antioxidants, and "healthy fats". Here are some of our favorites:
Cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and mustard greens)
5. Limit Alcohol Consumption - Our livers can only break down so much alcohol in an hour, beyond that, alcohol consumption begins to damage liver cells and may lead to inflammation of the liver and cirrhosis in addition to other overall health concerns. How much alcohol one can consume safely depends on a variety of factors including body weight, genetics, sex, and metabolism, but if you are to drink alcohol, it is recommended that men limit their consumption to two drinks a day, and women one drink a day. A "standard" drink is considered:
one ordinary beer
one small glass of wine or
a small shot of whiskey
6. Exercise Regularly - Physical activity helps to burn triglycerides, a type of fat found in the bloodstream that is used by the body for fuel. Triglycerides can be stored throughout the body when not used, including the liver, which increases levels of liver fat that may lead to fatty liver disease. Regular exercise also helps to reduce obesity, which can impact liver health. It is recommended that adults get 150 minutes of physical activity every weekby the CDC to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
7. Follow All Medication Directions - When medications are improperly mixed, or taken at the wrong dosage, our livers suffer. Closely follow all directions and warnings found on prescribed, over-the-counter, and natural supplement medications and never consume alcohol while taking medications to avoid unintentional liver damage. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about the medications (don't forget vitamins and supplements!) you're currently taking so that they can help you avoid any harmful combinations. It's also important to ONLY take medications or supplements from reputable suppliers to avoid ingesting potential toxins or heavy metals. Overuse of traditional medicationssuch as Advil or ibuprofen has also been linked to liver damage.
8. Get Your Vaccinations and Wash Your Hands - While this may sound like advice for preventing the flu, these tips can also prevent hepatitis and help to keep the liver healthy. There are vaccinations available to prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B, although currently there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. Washing your hands often can help prevent the contraction and spread of hepatitis A, as it is spread through contaminated food or water. Practicing safe sex and avoiding the exchange of bodily fluids (through needles, blood, etc.) can help prevent contracting and transmitting hepatitis B and C.
9. Talk To Your Doctor Often - Being open and honest with your doctor is vital for both liver health and overall health and wellness. Your doctor can talk with you about what risk factors you may have for liver disease and damage and what lifestyle changes you can make to ensure that your liver is happy, healthy, and functioning properly. As mentioned above, it is so important to tell your doctor about every prescribed medication and supplement, the diet and exercise you get, and lifestyle decisions you're making so that they can give you proper medical advice.
10. Find a Good Dietary Supplement - Your doctor may recommend adding a dietary supplement to your routine to help boost liver health and function. To avoid any unwanted toxins or heavy metals, look for reputable brands that are transparent with their ingredients and manufacturing process like 1 Body! 1 Body has formulated a Liver Support supplement that contains these liver-friendly ingredients in an easy-to-swallow vegetarian capsule:
Plus, all of 1 Body's supplementsare manufactured in the USA at our cGMP certified facility (enforced by the FDA) and made with absolutely no sugar, salt, dairy, wheat, gluten, soy, preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors.
Supports healthy liver function
Improves mental clarity
Manufactured in the USA at our cGMP certified facility (enforced by the FDA).