World Liver Day 2022: Diet tips, preventive measures to ensure good liver health
World Liver Day 2022: From processing of all that we consume, whether it be food, alcohol, drugs or poisons to handling the toxic materials which are produced in the body and harmful substances absorbed by the intestines, the liver has been attributed with over 500 functions till date and scientists say more may be discovered over time. As we mark World Liver Day this April 19 to spread awareness about liver related diseases, here are some preventive measures and lifestyle changes to ensure good liver health.
Calling progression to permanent liver damage i.e. cirrhosis, as the last and irreversible stage, Dr Tehsin A Petiwala, Consultant Gastroenterologist, Hepatologist and Endoscopist at Masina Hospital, shared in an interview with HT Lifestyle that it can be prevented by simple measures. He advised, “Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a common cause of cirrhosis, can be prevented with simple lifestyle measures. Exercise and weight loss help in reducing excess liver fat along with overall body fat. Avoid high calorie-meals, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates (such as white bread, maida flour products and pasta) and sugars. These help in reducing the deposition of fat in the liver. The strict control of blood sugar in diabetics prevents the accumulation of fat in the liver.”
He added, “Alcohol intake is known to damage the liver and cause cirrhosis. Hence it is best avoided. Cirrhosis is also caused by Hepatitis B and C viruses. Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to preventing the progression of liver disease. Hepatitis C can be completely cured whereas treatment of Hepatitis B is lifelong. Moreover, Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccination, which is included in the National Immunization schedule.”
Recommending that over-the-counter medications such as painkillers should be avoided as they can cause liver damage, Dr Tehsin A Petiwala further alerted, “Herbal remedies like green tea extracts, Aloe Vera, etc. should be taken with caution as some of them have been shown to cause serious liver damage. Drinking one to two cups a day of coffee is shown to decrease the progression of liver damage.”
Adding to the list, Dr Sonukumar Puri, MD Physician at Jain Multispecialty Hospital shared some ways to keep the liver healthy. These include:
1. Don't drink a lot of alcohol. It can damage liver cells and lead to the swelling or scarring that becomes cirrhosis, which can be deadly.
2. Eat a healthy diet and do regular exercises. You'll keep your weight under control, which helps prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that leads to cirrhosis.
3. Medicines and drugs can occasionally have a side effect that causes liver problems like the painkiller acetaminophen or sulpha drugs.
4. Viral hepatitis is a serious disease that harms liver. You catch hepatitis A from eating or drinking water that's got the virus which causes the disease. You can get a vaccine if you're traveling to a part of the world where there are outbreaks.
5. Hepatitis B and C are spread through blood and body fluids. To cut your risk, don't share items like toothbrushes, razors, or needles. Limit the number of sex partners you have, and always use latex condoms.
6. Get vaccinated. There are vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
7. Some cleaning products, aerosol products and insecticides have chemicals that can damage your liver. Avoid direct contact with them.
8. Additives in cigarettes can also damage your liver, so avoid smoking.
9. Stress is bad for liver. So take out time to relax and unwind every 2-3 months to keep yourself from falling prey to stress. From travelling to signing up for Zumba classes or taking up a part time hobby, you can do anything and everything that makes you feel good from within. Just make sure you are never surrounded by stress.
10. Avoid high calorie-meals, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates (such as white bread, white rice and regular pasta) and sugars.
11. Don’t eat raw or undercooked shellfish. For a well-adjusted diet, eat fiber, which you can obtain from fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, rice and cereals. Also eat meat (but limit the amount of red meat), dairy (low-fat milk and small amounts of cheese) and fats (the “good” fats that are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated such as vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and fish).
12. Hydration is essential, so drink a lot of water.