From processing everything we consume, be it food, alcohol, drugs or poisons, to handling toxic materials that are produced in the body and harmful substances absorbed by the intestines, the liver has been assigned over 500 functions to date and scientists say more can be discovered over time. As we celebrate World Liver Day on April 19 to spread the word about liver-related diseases, here are some preventative measures and lifestyle changes to ensure good liver health.
Calling the progression to permanent liver damage, i.e. cirrhosis, as the last, irreversible stage, Dr. Tehsin A Petiwala, consultant gastroenterologist, hepatologist and endoscopist at Masina Hospital, shared in an interview with HT Lifestyle that it can be prevented by simple measures. He advised: “Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a common cause of cirrhosis, can be prevented with simple lifestyle measures. Exercise and weight loss help reduce excess liver fat along with overall body fat. Avoid high-calorie meals, saturated fats, refined carbohydrates (such as white bread, maida flour products, and pasta), and sugars. These help in reducing the deposition of fat in the liver. Strict control of blood glucose in diabetics prevents the accumulation of fat in the liver.”
He added: “Alcohol intake is known to damage the liver and cause cirrhosis. So it’s best to avoid it. Cirrhosis is also caused by hepatitis B and C viruses. Early diagnosis and treatment are keys to preventing the progression of liver disease. Hepatitis C can be completely cured, while hepatitis B treatment is lifelong. In addition, hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccination, which is included in the national immunization schedule.”
Recommending that over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers should be avoided as they can cause liver damage, Dr. Tehsin A Petiwala also warned: they have been shown to cause serious liver damage. Drinking one to two cups of coffee a day slows the progression of liver damage.”
Adding to the list, Dr. Sonukumar Puri, a doctor at Jain Multispecialty Hospital, shared some ways to keep your liver healthy. These include:
1. Don’t drink too much alcohol. It can damage liver cells and lead to swelling or scarring that becomes cirrhosis, which can be deadly.
2. Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. You’ll keep your weight in check, which helps prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that leads to cirrhosis.
3. Medications and drugs can occasionally have a side effect that causes liver problems, such as the pain reliever acetaminophen or sulfa drugs.
4. Viral hepatitis is a serious disease that damages the liver. You get hepatitis A by eating or drinking water that contains the virus that causes the disease. You can get a vaccine if you are traveling to a part of the world where there are outbreaks.
5. Hepatitis B and C are spread through blood and body fluids. To reduce the risk, do not share items such as toothbrushes, razors or needles. Limit the number of sexual partners you have and always use latex condoms.
6. Get vaccinated. There are vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
7. Some cleaners, aerosols and insecticides contain chemicals that can damage the liver. Avoid direct contact with them.
8. Additives in cigarettes can also damage the liver, so avoid smoking.
9. Stress is bad for the liver. So take the time to relax and unwind every 2-3 months to avoid falling victim to stress. From traveling to signing up for Zumba classes or taking up a part-time hobby, you can do anything and everything that makes you feel good inside. Just make sure you’re never surrounded by stress.
10. Avoid high-calorie meals, saturated fats, refined carbohydrates (such as white bread, white rice, and regular pasta) and sugars.
11. Do not eat raw or undercooked seafood. For a well-adjusted diet, eat fiber, which you can get from fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, rice, and cereals. Also eat meat (but limit the amount of red meat), dairy (low-fat milk and small amounts of cheese), and fats (the “good” fats that are both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, such as vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and fish). ) .
12. Hydration is essential, so drink lots of water.