When it comes to our health, we pay due attention to our vital organs like heart and brain. Liver, however, is a part of our body we often tend to neglect but which is also crucial for good health. The second largest organ in our body, liver is responsible for digestive processes, removing toxins regulating blood sugar, and managing cholesterol. This cone-shaped organ requires special care and attention, which is why every year, April 19 is celebrated as World Liver Day. The idea is to spread awareness and take care of this vital body part.
Liver disease refers to any condition that prohibits the liver from functioning properly. It can be of two kinds – acute and chronic. As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), liver diseases affect around 1 in every 5 Indians and are the tenth most common cause of death in the country.
What Causes An Unhealthy Liver? Factors Affecting Liver Health
Normally, liver diseases are diagnosed through blood tests and liver function tests. However, there are certain symptoms that may affect those living with liver issues. This includes weight loss, lethargy, pain in the upper abdomen, swelling of feet, yellow discolouration of the skin, nausea and digestive issues. There are certain factors to keep in mind that may affect liver health. It is ideal to take note of these risk factors and get yourself tested at regular intervals to tackle the disease effectively.
Here Are Some Risk Factors That May Affect Liver Health:
1. Alcohol Consumption
This is the first factor that puts you at risk for liver disease. Consumption of alcohol in moderation is acceptable, however, excess alcohol consumption over prolonged durations can affect your liver health. Try to keep a check on how much you drink and you will soon be on the way to a healthy liver.
Obesity can put you at risk and cause liver problems in the body. Fatty liver disease is one of the most common conditions that is caused by the consumption of calorific and deep-fried foods. If you treat the root cause of obesity, which is excessive weight, you will find a substantial improvement in your liver health. “High amounts of saturated fats, simple sugar, and carbohydrates can be bad for liver health and lead to liver dysfunction. Therefore, foods like cola and sodas must be avoided,” says Salini Somasundaram, Chief Dietitian at Manipal Hospitals, Kharadi-Pune.
3. High Cholesterol
Those who are above their normal weight can also develop high cholesterol that can harm the liver. “Deep-fried food, even if it is made at home can be bad for liver health. When cooking oil reaches its smoking point and is reused, it turns into trans-fat which is not good for the liver,” reveals Somasundaram. Cholesterol can definitely be brought under control by following the right kind of diet. Avoid simple carbohydrates and fatty foods and exercise regularly to keep cholesterol levels in check.
Genetic predisposition to liver disease is also a reality. If an immediate family member has had a history of liver disease, you should watch out for symptoms and get yourself tested in case of any health issues.
5. Toxin Exposure
Liver disease may also develop after elongated exposure to toxins, such as those from chemicals in fruits and vegetables, aerosol products, insecticides and other additives in food. These toxins can harm the liver and cause issues.
Foods For Liver Health: What Foods Can Improve Your Liver Health?
A healthy and balanced diet can go a long way in keeping your liver in good shape.
- It is a good idea to keep the consumption of fatty foods, junk food and red meat at bay and consume more fresh produce including fruits and vegetables. Eating more green vegetables and leafy greens can prove quite beneficial for liver health. Meanwhile, cruciferous vegetables can also protect the liver and make it healthy.
- Our diet should comprise all the essential groups like cereal, pulses, and fats. “The cereal must be made of complex carbohydrates and food items must not have “maida” or processed food. Items like idli, rawa, bajra are good. Rice can also be eaten but it should be parboiled rice and not basmati rice,” reveals chief dietitian Somali Sundaram.
- Good fats are also crucial for liver health. “It is important to eat adequate amounts of good fats. Not every fat is good for the body, the fat we must consume must be healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They are found in food items like fish oil, fatty fish, flax seeds, and walnuts,” says the expert.
- You can also add more Vitamin C and Vitamin D to your diet for better liver health. “Other important nutrients required by the liver are Vitamin C and Vitamin D. Vitamin C is found in fresh citrus fruits and Vitamin D can be sourced from natural sunlight along with milk and milk-based foods, eggs, and cod liver oil,” adds Sundaram.
- Drinking plenty of water is also vital for liver health. Water is one of the most essential nutrients that works as a natural cleanser of the liver. Just as the human body needs cleansing, the internal organs of the body also need cleansing which is done by drinking adequate amounts of water.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.