Your liver plays a key role in your digestive system. Everything you eat or drink, including medicines and alcohol, pass through and are metabolised in your liver.
It is the second-largest organ in your body and filters chemicals like drugs and alcohol from the blood; regulates your hormones and blood sugar levels; stores energy from the nutrients you take in; and makes blood proteins, bile, and several enzymes that the body needs.
However, you should know that the liver is an organ you could easily damage if you do not take good care of it. Once the damage is done, it is very difficult to reverse.
Prevent damaging your liver
To keep your liver healthy, follow a healthy lifestyle and keep a close eye on medicines. The liver can be a very forgiving organ, but it has its limits. Here are some ways to take care of your liver;
- Do not drink a lot of alcohol. Alcohol can damage you liver cells, leading to the swelling or scarring that is called cirrhosis. Liver cirrhosis can be deadly.
- Eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise. A condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) can also lead to cirrhosis. NAFLD affects about 25% of people in the UK and can develop if you are being overweight, have diabetes, or having high levels of fat in your blood. It can be avoided through weight loss if you are overweight, regular exercise and eating a balanced diet.
- Do not touch or breathe in toxins. Cleaning products, aerosol products, insecticides, chemicals, and additives in cigarettes contain toxins that can damage liver cells. Avoid direct contact with them, and do not smoke.
- Be careful with herbs and dietary supplements. Herbal remedies, herbal combinations, and dietary supplements are not subject to the same approval process as medications, and some can harm the liver. A few that have caused liver problems are cascara, chaparral, comfrey, kava kava and ephedra.