Give Your Liver a Vacation  with These 7
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Last updated October 12, 2017, originally published September 17, 2015

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

You live a busy life. You’ve got plenty to worry about every
day. So you probably don’t give your liver a second thought.
But this football-sized organ is the largest in the body and a
key player in your digestive system - you need it to stay
healthy. Are you neglecting your liver? Or, even worse, are
you damaging your liver through what you eat, drink, and do?
Give our liver a break and benefit from better health and even
a longer life. Here’s how to provide a vacation for this
essential part of your body.

What Does Your Liver Do?

Did you know that your liver is the most metabolically complex
organ in the entire body?

Everything you eat or drink goes through the liver. It
performs over 500 different functions, according to the
Canadian Liver Foundation, including ridding your blood of
harmful chemicals, breaking down fat, controlling your blood
sugar, fighting off infections, and helping the blood clot.

The liver is a resilient organ and the only one in the body that
can actually regenerate itself – when you transplant a portion
of the liver to another person, the donor’s liver will grow back
and the recipient’s new liver will increase to the appropriate
size. But if you abuse it too much, you lose.

What Happens When You Damage Your Liver?

While the liver is resilient, it can’t cope with everything you
throw at it. There are over 100 forms of liver disease that
cause health problems including viruses like hepatitis A, B, and
C, cancer of the liver, and poisoning caused by drugs or
alcohol. If the liver forms scar tissue because of a liver
, it is called "cirrhosis", and this can kill.

But the good news is that most forms of liver disease can be
prevented by treating your liver with the care and attention it
deserves. You can help your liver relax and do its job properly
by following these seven healthy habits.

Get Up Out of Your Chair to Give Your Liver a Break

A 2015 study from the Sungkyunkwan University School of
Medicine in South Korea shows a strong link between
sedentary behavior and
nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.  And
don’t think that going to the gym for 30 minutes will help.

If your average day involves a whole lot of sitting, you are
damaging your liver according to experts.

The study looked at 1
39,056 middle-aged Korean adults and
out of the participants,
28 percent (39,257)had nonalcoholic
fatty liver disease, with sitting for long periods and low
amounts of physical activity independently linked to the liver
Those at the highest levels of risk fr liver disease
sat over 10 hours a day, though even those sitting for  5
hours a day showed elevated risk for the disease.

You may be surprised that lack of activity affects your liver but
the findings are clear – your body is designed to move, so
make it happen.  (Read more about
simple ways to become
more active.)

Drink Coffee for Better Liver Health?

Recent news shows that caffeinated drinks may actually be
good for your liver. A 2013 study from Duke-NUS Graduate
Medical School and the Duke University School of Medicine
demonstrates that increased caffeine intake can reduce the
risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Drinking the equivalent of four cups of coffee or tea a day
helps prevent the condition, according to the researchers. And
2013 research from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota
also suggests that regular coffee consumption helps reduce
the risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis, a rare autoimmune
liver disease.

Don’t Overdo it With Alcohol

Stick with coffee, but don’t drink too much alcohol. Alcohol
damages liver cells and leads to cirrhosis – liver scarring.

The guidelines from the US government state that men should
drink no more than two drinks a day, and women one drink.
In the UK, doctors recommend two or three alcohol-free days
a week so the liver can recover.

According to a 2011 report from the Royal College of
Physicians, government guidelines should be amended
because they imply that daily drinking is safe. The researchers
say “there is an increased risk of liver disease for those who
drink daily or near daily compared with those who drink
periodically or intermittently."

Fast for a Day (and Drink Skim Milk) to Give Your Liver a

Your liver will thank you if you eat well and get regular
exercise. Keeping your weight at a healthy level prevents
nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. A 2010 study by Cincinnati
Children's Hospital Medical Center shows that a diet high in
fructose, sucrose and trans fat causes fatty liver disease and
scarred liver.

A poor diet enlarges the liver, which leads to liver problems.
When preparing for gastric bypass surgery, surgeons such as
Christopher Pring in the UK put patients on a strict liquid diet
of four pints of semi-skimmed milk a day, two pints of water
and a salty drink –no food – for two weeks before surgery to
shrink the liver so they can get a better view of the stomach.

Of course, any fasting should be done under a doctor's
supervision. But it appears that including a day of fasting with
skim milk can give your liver a break from  the endless job of
processing food.

Don’t Take Too Much Tylenol – It Damages Your Liver

Change your habit of taking certain medicines and benefit
from a healthier liver. The popular painkiller acetaminophen
(Tylenol) in particular can harm your liver if you take too
much – and it is easy to take too much without even realizing

A 2011 study from the University of Edinburgh and the
Scottish Liver Transplantation Unit in the UK says that Tylenol
can be life-threatening if you repeatedly take more than you
should. So-called “staggered overdosing” occurs when
someone has persistent pain and takes a little bit more of the
drug than they should, over time, and is at risk of liver failure.

Baby Boomers: Get Tested for Hepatitis

Preventing and treating hepatitis is important if you want to
have a healthy liver and healthy life – but the problem is you
may not even realize you have hepatitis. Hepatitis C is spread
through bodily fluids and blood.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012
urged all baby boomers (those people born between 1945
and 1965) to get tested for the disease as they are more likely
to have it, and not know it. Hepatitis C causes liver cancer and
liver disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
estimate that one on 30 baby boomers has the virus but
doesn’t realize it.

Treatment can cure up to 75 percent of cases.

Eat a Spicy Curry for Liver Health?

It seems that curcumin, the component of turmeric that gives
curries their yellowy color, could help prevent and treat liver
damage from fatty liver disease, according to a 2010 study
from Saint Louis University. Laboratory tests suggest that
substances in curcumin can help to “short-circuit” the
damaging effects on liver cells.


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