From From Kurt P. Leuenberger, MD, OHC Hematology Oncology
October 10, 2017
Liver and onions. Baked chicken livers. Barbecue beef liver.
If you’re not a fan of liver dishes, you’re in luck. This article isn’t about liver dishes. It’s about keeping the liver in your body healthy. In recognition of Liver Cancer Awareness Month, I want to help you reduce your risk of liver cancer, as much as possible, by sharing tips – not liver recipes.
The liver is one of the largest organs in the body. It’s important to take care of it because we rely on our liver for three important functions: to filter harmful substances from the blood so they can be passed from the body in stools and urine; two, to make bile to help digest fat that comes from food; and three, to store glycogen (sugar), which the body uses for energy.
Taking care of your liver isn’t too difficult.
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. U.S. government guidelines say men should drink no more than two drinks a day and women only one. One of the best beverages for a health liver is green tea. Hot or cold, it’s rich in vitamin E and antioxidants, both good for your liver. Lemons are also good for the liver so consider drinking water with some fresh lemon juice added.
Eat healthy. Try to eat less meat and instead eat non-starchy vegetables and fruits, grains and seeds. And don’t forget nuts. Walnuts are considered another good food for our livers because of their high content of omega-3 fatty acids and their amino acid levels, which assist in liver cleansing, therefore helping to remove toxins. There is so much information about foods and healthy eating that you might want to consider scheduling an appointment with a registered dietitian or nutritionist. They can help you understand which foods are best, which foods to avoid and help you develop eating plans and recipes so you won’t feel like you’re on a diet. If you are already a healthy eater, check the website health.facty.com for a list of 10 foods that are good for your liver and then add them to your already healthy diet.
Exercise. Exercise is good for you in general, and as you keep your weight under control, you’ll help prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that leads to cirrhosis. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults get at least two and a half hours each week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity. You need to do this type of activity for at least 10 minutes at a time. Anything less will not have the same health benefits. Adults should also do strengthening activities, like push-ups, sit-ups and lifting weights, at least two days a week. The hardest part of exercise is doing it, so choose something you enjoy.
Drink coffee. Research shows that it can lower your risk of getting liver disease. No one knows why this is so, but it’s something easy to do while more research is done.
Don’t smoke. Cigarettes have additives that can damage your liver.
Other things you can do to protect your liver include the following:
- Prevent hepatitis. It’s a serious disease that harms your liver.
- Try to not touch or breathe in toxins. Some cleaning products, aerosol products, and insecticides have chemicals that can damage your liver.
- Be careful with herbs and dietary supplements. Some could harm your liver, including cascara, chaparral, comfrey, kava and ephedra.
- Watch out for certain medicines. Some cholesterol drugs can occasionally have a side effect that causes liver problems. The painkiller acetaminophen can hurt your liver if you take too much. It’s always best to talk with your doctor before starting or stopping any medicine.
Taking steps to protect your liver may reduce your risk of liver cancer. There are two types of primary liver cancer in adults – hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma. Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type of adult primary liver cancer. It is relatively rare in the United States, although its incidence is rising, principally in relation to the spread of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Should experience any of these symptoms, be sure to see your doctor right away.
- A hard lump on the right side just below the rib cage
- Discomfort in the upper abdomen on the right side
- A swollen abdomen
- Pain near the right shoulder blade or in the back
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Unusual tiredness or weakness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite or feelings of fullness after eating a small meal
- Weight loss for no known reason
- Pale, chalky bowel movements and dark urine
Having hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or cirrhosis are significant risk factors for adult primary liver cancer. Liver cancer is more common in men than women, and among Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native populations.
If you can follow the tips I’ve outlined above, I think you’ll be able to focus more on those liver recipes and less on your risk of liver cancer.Comments (2)