How To Keep
Your Liver Healthy
Better than cure
Maintain a healthy weight
If you’re obese or even just overweight, you’re in danger of having a fatty liver which progresses to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), one of the fastest growing forms of liver disease. Weight loss can play an important part in helping to reduce liver fat.
Eat a balanced diet
We recommend avoiding high calorie-meals, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and sugars. Don’t eat raw or undercooked shellfish. Add fibre in the diet from fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, rice and cereals. You can eat meat (but limit the amount of red meat), dairy and good fats. Hydration is essential, so drink a lot of water.
Toxins can injure liver cells. Limit direct contact with toxins from cleaning and aerosol products, insecticides, chemicals, and additives. When you do use aerosols, make sure the room is ventilated, and wear a mask. Don’t smoke.
Use alcohol responsibly
Alcoholic beverages can create many health problems. They can damage or destroy liver cells and scar your liver. Talk to your doctor about what amount of alcohol is right for you. You may be advised to drink alcohol only in moderation or to quit completely.
Avoid contaminated needles
Of course, dirty needles aren’t only associated with intravenous drug use. You ought to follow up with a medical practitioner and seek testing following any type of skin penetration involving sharp instruments or needles. Unsafe injection practices, though rare, may occur in a hospital setting, and would need immediate follow-up. Also, ensure only clean needles are used for tattoos and body piercings.
Avoid the use of illicit drugs
Illicit drugs include marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or prescription-type psychotherapeutics (pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives) used non-medically.
Follow directions on all medications
Some prescription medications can also be toxic to the liver. It is important that you mention to your treating physician that you have liver disease. Tell your doctor about any over-the-counter medicines, supplements, and natural or herbal remedies that you use.
Wash your hands
Use soap and warm water immediately after using the bathroom, when you have changed a diaper, and before preparing or eating food. Oro-faecal route is the commonest form of transmission of hepatitis A virus.
Get medical care if you’re exposed to someone else’s blood/body fluids
If for any reason you come into contact with someone else’s blood, immediately follow up with your doctor. If you’re very concerned, go to your nearest hospital’s emergency room.
Don’t share personal hygiene items
For example, razors, toothbrushes and nail clippers can carry microscopic levels of blood or other body fluids that may be contaminated.
Practice safe sex
Unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners increases your risk of hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
When you exercise consistently, it helps to burn triglycerides for fuel and can reduce liver fat.
How much alcohol
Alcoholic drinks have different amounts of alcohol in them: Beer is about 5% alcohol, although some beers can have more, Wine is usually 12 to 15% alcohol and hard liquor is about 30-45% alcohol. Locally prepared alcohol (arrack) has unreliable amounts of alcohol in it, and is usually more dangerous due to the presence of impurities. Women have lessor ability to metabolise alcohol and hence might get greater damage if they consume alcohol equal to men.
Most recent study from lancet claims risk of mortality rises with increase in alcohol consumption, and there is no level of consumption that minimises loss of health. So of course, the best recommendation would be to abstain from alcohol. However, if you drink alcohol, please do so in moderation. Moderation means the drinking is not getting you intoxicated (or drunk) and you are drinking no more than 8-12 units of alcohol in a week and have at least two alcohol free days a week, and one alcohol free week a month. One unit of alcohol is found in 25ml of whiskey or 175ml of wine. It is advisable to keep an eye on your liver with regular tests and an ultrasound at least once a year if you do drink alcohol regularly. Fat deposition in the liver gradually develops in 90% of those who drink excessively and is usually symptomless and fully reversible. But with time alcoholic cirrhosis sets in and this is irreversible even after you stop the alcohol. Binge drinking [drinking large amounts of alcohol, suddenly (within a short duration of time) and erratically] in particular is very harmful and can cause acute liver inflammation.
What is the perfect diet
for a healthy liver?
A moderately high protein, low carbohydrate diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits without high-calorie sauces or added salt & sugars!! Choose fiber-rich whole grains like bulgar, whole wheat, Quinoa, pearl barley, buck wheat and brown rice.
Poultry and fish without skin prepared in healthy way is also recommended. Eat fish at least twice a week, especially fish containing omega-3 fatty acids. Choose lean cuts of meat instead of those high in fat. Make sure your dairy products are fat-free (skimmed) or low-fat (1%). Avoid foods with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat. Limit saturated fat and trans fat by replacing them with the better fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars. Choose foods low in sodium(salt) and prepare foods with little or no salt. Drink lots of water: It prevents dehydration and it helps your liver to function better.
If I have cirrhosis or chronic liver disease already,
What is the best diet for me?
Once cirrhosis develops the diet has to be tailored depending on the state of your liver. In many cases patients develop fluid retention or are found to have low protein and some people develop fluctuating blood sugar levels. We at South Asian have a dedicated team of dieticians who will tailor make a diet plan to suit your individual situation. For example most people say you need a low protein diet in cirrhosis but we believe that this is required only in very late stages of cirrhosis (during a liver coma attack) and in the rest of times, it can benefit. Accordingly we will see patients regularly to ensure the best choices made at all times.