6 Surprising Things That Can Damage Your Liver

The liver is usually not very high on the list of body parts that people stress a lot about when it comes to prevention of diseases. It usually gets the attention it deserves after something goes wrong.

However, the liver is a very important organ in your body, responsible for filtering of the blood coming from the digestive tract and detoxifying chemicals, so it can cause a lot of health problems when not functioning properly. So here are six important things you should be careful about for the sake of your liver:

1. Alcohol

When it comes to liver problems, we’re obliged to start with alcohol. We all know that heavy drinking can damage the liver, but exactly how much is too much? You don’t have to a seasoned alcoholic in order to overdo it with the booze. If you often drink a lot and you do this for a long time, expect a slow but steady deterioration of your liver.

This doesn’t mean that you’re not supposed to drink alcohol at all – it means that you should practice a greater control over the amount of your drinking. Moderation in all things is the key to good health.

2. Sugar

If you didn’t already have enough reasons to eliminate sugary drinks and foods with added sugars from your diet, here’s another one. The high intake of sugar is an enemy to your health on so many levels it almost hurts when you merely think of it. Among other things, studies have shown that drinking a lot of soft drinks is linked with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Sugar (more specifically fructose) is the compound from which your liver makes fat. A regular consumption of too much refined sugar and high-fructose foods can create a damaging fatty buildup in the liver.

3. Being overweight

Did you know that alcoholism isn’t the only way to develop cirrhosis? If you have a lot of excess body fat, it can build up in your liver cells, causing your liver to swell and leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Then the swollen liver can harden and scar the liver tissue.

A proper diet, adjusted to your nutrition needs and lifestyle, will get you a long way in terms of health and fat loss. And a diet high in trans fats, the ‘bad’ type of fats that can be found in almost all processed foods (they’re listed as “partially hydrogenated“ on the back of the product) will most definitely lead to weight problems.

It’s never to late to switch to a healthier lifestyle, lose a few extra pounds and prevent liver disease and many other disorders from happening.

4. Certain supplements

Since the body has no way of eliminating excess iron, taking too much iron supplements can be detrimental for the liver, increasing the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Also, many herbal remedies like chinese ginseng, kava kava, kombucha tea and barberry can be especially toxic to the liver. Don’t forget to consult your doctor before taking a supplement and always keep consumption on the recommended level.

5. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is very important for the proper functioning of the body, especially for the maintaining of a healthy immune system, skin and vision. You should strive to get it from your regular diet by including eggs, oily fish and fresh fruits and vegetables on your daily menu. Liver is a very rich source of vitamin A as well, but you should eat it only once a week to avoid having too much vitamin A.

You should be very careful with the consumption of supplements which contain vitamin A for the same reason. Too much of it can increase the risk of liver and bone damage.

5. Acetaminophen

Most painkillers contain the drug acetaminophen, which is a powerful pain reliever and a fever reducer that can be especially toxic for the liver. The FDA has issued a statement urging doctors not to prescribe it in doses higher than 325 mg, but eve low doses are risky in the long-term.

The biggest problem is when people take multiple medicines containing acetamiphen without being aware of it, which can lead to overdose with very serious consequences like acute liver failure. Therefore, it’s really important that you don’t make up your own combinations of pain relievers without consulting your doctor first.

6. Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a virus that can infect the liver and if left untreated, it can cause long-term and potentially life-threatening damage to the liver, including cirrhosis and liver failure. In most of the cases, people get infected with hepatitis C by sharing unsterilized needles when injecting drugs, but the infection can also be spread by sharing razors and toothbrushes and occasionally even through unprotected intercourse.

If you think you might be at risk, you should get tested as soon as possible. With the latest medications, the infection is highly treatable in its early stages.

Remember, it’s not always enough to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly for your liver to work well – try limiting the amount of alcohol and sugar you consume and be careful with your medications.

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