Protect your liver
Although all of our organs will age as we get older, there are several lifestyle habits that make this happen sooner or at an earlier age, and this is especially true for the liver. The blood volume and flow in the liver decreases, for example, with aging. If you add chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and/or obesity, these all take a toll on the liver. Plus older folks generally are taking more medications, and these pass through the liver, creating additional stress.
Fatty liver disease is the most common type of liver disease, and it is unrelated to a high alcohol intake. Rather, it seems to be related to other things like excess weight and high sugar and/or fat intake. It develops more often in men than women. At the beginning of fatty liver disease there are rarely any symptoms.
If fatty liver disease goes untreated, the liver will become inflamed, and can eventually lead to liver cirrhosis and cancer of the liver.
If you should be diagnosed with a fatty liver, then take a look at these lifestyle habits that may be able to reverse this condition:
- Are you eating a healthy plant-based diet?
- Do you get in a 30-minute walk every day?
- If needed, can you lose about 10 percent body weight?
- Can you stop drinking alcohol, since alcohol is toxic to the liver?
If your doctor has told you that you have fatty liver disease, take it seriously, With some changes to your lifestyle habits, you can at least halt the progression and if caught early enough, even reverse the damage to the liver:
- If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, get these under good control so that they are not adding extra stress to the liver.
- Because so many things get cleared through the liver, be careful with prescription medications, over the counter drugs like Tylenol and Advil, and herbal supplements. Less is better.
- And then finally, have a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, whole-grains, lean protein, and with minimal preservatives or additives.
Recipes to try:
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.