Liver: The Gatekeeper To Good Health
The liver is a large, meaty organ that sits on the right side of the belly. It is the heaviest organ in the body. Our liver is working hard for 24/7 as it performs over 500 vital functions including digestion, metabolism, detoxification, immunity, protein synthesis and the storage of nutrients within the body to keep us healthy and alive. However, its function is often not noticed and taken for granted.
Functions of the Liver
- Blood detoxification and purification
- Excretion of bilirubin, cholesterol, hormones, and drugs
- Enzyme activation
- Bile production and excretion
- Metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates
Example of Liver Diseases
- Diseases caused by viruses, like hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C
- Diseases caused by drugs or too much alcohol such as fatty liver disease and cirrhosis.
- Liver cancer
- Inherited diseases, such as hemochromatosis and Wilson disease
Symptoms of Poor Liver Function
- Fatigue and Tiredness
- Jaundice of Eye and Skin
- Loss of Appetite
- High Levels of Cholesterol
- Itchy and Sensitive Skin
- Unexpected outbursts of emotion
Ways to Keep Your Liver Healthy
- Maintain a healthy weight
Weight loss is key to preventing complications of fatty liver. A study showed that losing 10% of one’s body weight can reduce liver fat, resolve inflammation, and potentially improve scarring.
- Have a balanced and healthy diet
Include more high fibre foods such as fruits and vegetables and whole grains. For proteins, choose more fish, white meat, beans and nuts. Saturated fats and trans fats found in deep fried foods, red meats and processed food might lead to excess fat buildup and store in the liver that cause fatty liver disease.
- Avoid alcohol intake
Alcohol must be broken down by the liver. However, Alcoholic beverages can create many health problems. They can damage or destroy the liver cells and lead to inflammation and scarring (cirrhosis).
- Regular exercise and have an active lifestyle
Regular exercise is key to a healthy liver. Exercise decreases stress on the liver, increases energy levels and helps to maintain healthy weight. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, such as brisk walking or swimming.