If you’ve been hitting it a little hard this festive season, it might be time for you to give your liver a chance to play catch up. Here’s how.
So Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s – the brutal trifecta – is done and dusted and now it’s time for you to start paying attention to your health once again. It may be a New Year’s resolution, it may be due to the dull ache in your abdomen that reminds you or your own mortality, but whatever the inspiration, we could all do with a good detox from time and time, and while you might be enjoying the first weeks of Dry January there’s more you can do to boost liver health, function, and recovery than simply not abusing it some more. Here are some of our top tips.
This Isn’t a Cleanse
Contrary to what you might have read, your liver isn’t filled with built-up toxins (we’re pretty sure), as that’s simply not how the organ works. Your liver is a processing plant, one that takes toxins and swiftly converts them into less harmful compounds that are then excreted and all these cleanses that are marketed online are just a con, the potentially harmful side-effects of which we still don’t know. You have been warned. However, that doesn’t mean you’re powerless to help your liver out.
Drink More Water
It’s probably an obvious first step but drinking water is crucial to help flush your body and kick off your liver’s recovery. It’s easy to forget to drink enough water – and we’re not talking the melted ice at the bottom of your rocks glass – but if you can get into the habit this step alone offers plenty of benefits, including a better complexion, a stronger immune system, and regulated blood pressure and digestion. The guide is 8-10 glasses a day.
Probably another of your New Year’s resolutions if you’re not already a regular gym-goer, exercise helps combat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, also known as hepatic steatosis, an all too common ailment among modern males that can lead to even more serious conditions, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. Regular exercise helps reduce weight and your risk of diabetes while also reducing high blood pressure, all conditions that have a relationship with a fatty liver.
Drop the Hooch
Probably a fairly obvious one but if you’re looking to give your liver a break as we kick off 2022 you might want to start with an alcohol-free month (or at least few weeks). Alcohol is essentially a poison that challenges liver function so going low ABV or entirely cold turkey will help improve function and give that organ a much-deserved respite. If you really need a drink, try to stick to one standard serving a day.
Watch the Meds
It’s also important for you to watch the medication – prescribed or otherwise – you’re taking as it can also have a negative impact on liver function. Some of the medications that you need to be most mindful include Acetaminophen (marketed as Tylenol), common antibiotic Amoxicillin/clavulanate (Augmentin), Diclofenac (marketed as Voltaren and Cambia), and Allopurinol (Zyloprim). Just remember, all meds run through your liver so if you’re not sure if you should be taking something, ask your doctor.
Of course eating better helps with many bodily functions, but adding a few key ingredients can do wonders for that poor overworked liver. These include garlic, citrus, walnuts, carrots, green tea, beets, turmeric, and apples, all of which potentially help cell regeneration. Milk thistle, which you can find in supplement form, has also been regarded as a liver aid for centuries, as has broccoli and artichoke extracts, while taurine helps liver regeneration, immediately rationalising your afternoon Red Bull.
In addition, be sure you’re eating the right healthy fats, including those from coconut, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, fatty fish, eggs, and coconuts, and avoiding bad fats and salt, both of which are contributors to fatty liver disease. In addition, it’s a wise move to cut down sugar as the liver is tasked with digesting sugar and adding it to the bloodstream.
Take it Easy
A final positive step towards liver health is reducing stress levels. Meditation and yoga (or simply taking a long walk to your favourite music) can help reduce cortisol levels, which in turn reduces stress on your liver.
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