Love your liver!
Christmas and the New Year celebrations are now a mere memory; the only evidence that it ever happened is the extra pounds on the scales and the lack of them in our bank balance! We allow ourselves to over-indulge for days, if not weeks, with the perfect excuse ‘well, it is Christmas…” Now that the festive period has well and truly passed we have no more excuses to pull out of the cracker.
January, the most popular time for us to think about doing all of the things that we know we should do for 12 months of the year and not just when guilt strikes, the time of New Year resolutions, made to be quickly broken. We think about losing weight, getting fitter, stopping smoking, taking up a new hobby but, have you ever thought about loving your liver? A strange question I know but, let’s take a few minutes to chat about this remarkable, often taken-for-granted organ of ours.
Did you know that the liver is our biggest solid organ in the body, (bonus point if you know that the biggest organ is the skin?) It weighs a pretty hefty 1.8 kg in men and 1.3kg in women and is the size of a rugby ball. If you place your hand just below your ribs on your right side your hand will pretty much cover it.
The liver is the factory of our body, it is incredibly hard working with over 200 jobs to do (and you thought you were over-worked!) Its job description includes: breaking down food and converting it into energy, fighting infection and changing potentially damaging substances, making them harmless.
The liver works so hard that it really does take a lot of abuse, but it can only take so much before it breaks. When it gets to this point the liver has an incredible ability to replace damaged tissue with new cells making it the only organ in the body that can regenerate, pretty impressive!
But, continuous abuse can cause the liver to have permanent damage if we fail to look after it, the message is: Look after your liver and it will look after you!
Now, your liver may have taken a battering over the holidays with lots of rich food, alcohol and sitting on the sofa in your PJ’s all day but, you do have the ability to rescue it! Looking after your liver is easy and it will love you for it.
One cause of liver disease is due to alcohol. You may be thinking of the ex -Football stars Paul Gascoyne and George Best and be familiar with the well documented alcohol abuse that they inflicted on their long-suffering livers. Most of us enjoy a tipple or two and as long as you are sensible and follow the recommended guidelines and take at least 2-3 consecutive days off of alcohol a week you can still enjoy a glass of your favourites vintage or, you can really help your liver to be happy by taking part in Dry January and not drink alcohol for a month.
Fatty Liver Disease
The liver processes most of the nutrients and fats that we eat. If you are over-weight or obese, you increase the risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. You can help prevent this by:
Cutting down on saturated and trans fats (cakes, biscuits, processed foods in general.)
Cutting down on sugary foods
Eat a well-balanced diet with loads of fruit and veg
Drink lots of water
Be physically active, aim for 30 minutes a day- brisk walking really does count
Protect yourself against viral Hepatitis and get tested if you’ve been at risk
Blood borne viruses- hepatitis B&C cause permanent liver damage and increase the risk of liver cancer. Hepatitis A and E are spread by faecal/ oral through food and water, this is why it is important to have Hepatitis A and E vaccinations when you travel abroad to some countries.
Don’t share tooth brushes, razors, nail scissors and tweezers- keep your own personal stash!
Always practise safe sex and make sure the ink’s you get are with professional, qualified tattoo providers.
These are simple steps to follow to truly love your liver and it will repay you by keeping you in the best possible health.
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Click on the link below and see if you are at risk of liver disease, remember, the sooner you find out the better the chances are of keeping it in good condition.