January is Love Your Liver Awareness Month
The liver is a fascinating organ and its importance is often understated. It is an amazing multi-tasker and performs over 500 vital jobs that help to keep us alive. It is just as important as other organs like your heart and lungs, but they tend to steal most of the limelight. When damaged, the liver can repair itself, but only up to a point. It is like an elastic band; it can only stretch so far before it breaks.
January is often a time that people take stock after the festive period but this year it is even more important as the numbers at risk have also increased during the Covid pandemic. Many people have increased their alcohol consumption and gained weight during lockdown, the two biggest risk factors for developing liver disease.
Sadly, people with liver disease often do not have any symptoms until the disease has progressed and it is too late for treatment. For this reason it is vital to know the risk factors and to keep your liver happy and healthy for life, before long-lasting damage can occur. Take your first steps towards better liver health today.
- What the liver likes
The liver plays a central role in our metabolism: It filters the blood, produces hormones, breaks down various metabolic products and stores nutrients. Actually – because people often make life difficult for the organ. Above all, an unhealthy lifestyle and environmental toxins are harmful. Do something good for your liver with the following tips!
- Nice bitter
Bitter substances make your liver rejoice. Because they increase the production of bile and thereby make the fat from the food better tolerated. That relieves the liver. You can find a lot of the bitter components in plant-based foods such as chicory, radicchio, endive salad, artichokes, Brussel sprouts or dandelions.
- Coffee for the liver
Coffee is a great drink – at least for the liver. A meta-study was able to show that the stimulant drink lowers the risk of developing liver cancer. And by at least 40 percent. The ingredients in coffee also activate the liver’s enzymes, according to the researchers. The subjects sipped one to three cups a day for this effect.
- The liver likes it spicy
Use plenty of fresh herbs and spices when cooking. Take rosemary, for example. The polyphenols, essential oils and minerals it contains activate the flow of bile, increase blood flow and support the liver in detoxification. Sage is also good for the liver. It has an antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and regenerative effect.
- Liver wrap as a wellness treatment
You probably know it: After a greasy a meal, you feel full and annoying belching. To promote fat digestion, instead of the digestive schnapps, try a well-tried household remedy: liver compresses. Simply soak a small towel in hot salt water, wring it out and place it on the liver, put a hot water bottle over it, done! You can remove the whole thing after about 30 minutes.
- Small portions
Digestion is hard work for the internal organs. That is why it is better for the liver, among other things, if it is not “killed” with huge portions. So it is better to eat more often and in smaller amounts each day.
- Not too much alcohol
The liver helps detoxify the body. In this regard, you are mainly concerned with alcohol. Therefore, the rule of thumb is: Men should not consume more than 20 grams of alcohol per day, women even only 10 grams (this corresponds to about a glass of wine). If you look too deeply into the glass over the long term, you get the unpleasant receipt: The liver becomes fatty (fatty liver) or even shrinks (cirrhosis of the liver).
- Fat in moderation
However, fatty liver can also develop from food that is too high in fat and high in calories. Because the liver likes to store fat, after all it is a very efficient fuel for bad times. Fatty liver is now actually the most common liver disease in Germany. The simple antidote: try to eat healthy and rarely deep-fry or fry your food.
- Smoking attacks the liver
It is not for nothing that cigarette consumption is considered one of the risk factors for liver cancer. Because the organ also has to do with detoxification when smoking. Smoking increases the likelihood of cirrhosis or fatty liver disease, especially in combination with alcohol. Therefore: Better keep your hands off the glowing sticks and try to smoke passively as little as possible.
- Low in carbohydrates
Do you already suffer from fatty liver disease? The good news: the liver has excellent regenerative abilities. In order to get the so-called non-alcoholic fatty liver under control quickly, a radical reduction of the carbohydrates in the diet is particularly effective. In addition to sugar and sweets, carbohydrates also include all flour products as well as fruit, potatoes and rice. Regular exercise is now also advisable.
- Active for the liver
Exercising is not only good for people who already have liver problems. Basically, physical activity, around five hours a week, will keep you and your liver fit. Because this improves blood circulation and metabolism, among other things.
- Beware of paracetamol and ibuprofen
Pains? Fever? Many then quickly resort to seemingly harmless over-the-counter pain killers. This harbours certain dangers, because if you swallow too much of the pills, you risk liver failure. Doctors are even calling for a prescription for the drug. So make sure not to use too high a dose of paracetamol and, if in doubt, ask your doctor again.
The bottom line
Your liver is an important organ with many essential functions, and it is recommended that you do what you can to take care of it. The good news is that even if you have not been kind to your liver there is still time to make changes to your lifestyle for optimal liver health. Your liver is the only organ in your body that can regenerate as long as it has at least 25% function left. Making lifestyle choices is the best way to take care of your liver.
Be as good to your liver as your liver is to you!
Although most health insurance does not cover nutritionists HanseMerkur health insurance policies come with an optional ‘Meet a Doctor’ function, a service provided by Dubai-based TruDocs, whereby insured members can connect via a mobile app, not only to doctors but also nutritionists via video call. Please ask your local sales agent for more details.