Look After Your Liver

Take care of your liver and it will take care of you. As the body's filter, this organ needs to be kept in tip-top shape

The liver is one of the body’s largest internal organs, so it deserves extra attention

Your liver acts a jack-of-all trades, helping out with digestion, dexotification and more – so treat it right

When it comes to multi-tasking, few organs in the human body are as diverse or critical in their functioning as the liver.

As one of the largest of the internal organs, the liver helps in the metabolism of sugars, fats and cholesterol, helping both digestion and metabolism; produces enzymes, hormones and other important proteins; forms and secretes bile to aid intestinal absorption; and finally, is the body’s great detoxifier – filtering and eliminating toxins such as alcohol, drugs and caffeine from the blood.

Liver function can be dramatically affected by factors like a poor diet and bad lifestyle choices, such as obesity, alcohol or drug abuse, or high-risk behaviours like unprotected sex.

While the liver is an incredibly resilient organ that can repair and even regenerate itself, it can be permanently damaged by chronic alcohol or drug abuse or liver diseases like hepatitis A, B or C.

To help protect the healthy functioning of the liver it’s important to:

  • Drink alcohol in moderation, as chronic abuse can lead to cirrhosis.
  • Limit stimulants such as coffee and tea.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Use all over-the-counter medications and herbal remedies with care as some ingredients can be toxic to the liver. Before taking any medication, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Limit your use of acetaminophen (do not exceed recommended dosages) as it can be toxic to the liver.
  • Avoid exposure to toxic liquids such as paint thinner, solvents and pesticides.
  • Practise safe sex, as serious liver diseases such as hepatitis can be sexually transmitted.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.