Your liver is responsible for more than 500 functions in your body. Some of these tasks are bigger than others, including the all-important jobs of filtering and cleaning your blood, maintaining appropriate cholesterol levels and producing bile that aids in digestion. Your lifestyle, especially the food and drink you consume, can directly affect your liver health. By making healthy choices, you can keep your liver functioning at its best. Because liver disease may not always cause symptoms until it has advanced, talk with your physician before making any lifestyle changes to ensure that your liver is healthy.
Drink no more than one alcoholic drink a day. While men under age 65 may be able to handle two drinks a day, women’s bodies and livers tend to be smaller, which means you should impose a one-drink limit, according to MayoClinic.com. One drink is considered a shot or 1.25 ounces of liquor, a 4-ounce glass of wine or a 12-ounce can of beer, notes the University of Iowa Healthcare.
Consume a healthy, low-fat diet. Excess dietary fat is stored in your liver, which can lead to swelling, scarring and damage, notes Best Health. To keep this from occurring, choose foods such as skinless chicken breast, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. If you focus on eating healthy options, you will likely have less room for unhealthy foods.
Avoid high-fat foods, including fast foods or convenience foods, such as french fries, fried meats or meats with visible fat. Because fat and obesity negatively affect your liver health, avoiding unhealthy food choices can help keep your liver healthy.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes most days. Exercise burns calories and helps you maintain a healthy weight. Walk, ride a bicycle, swim, use an elliptical machine or choose another form of exercise. If you are a beginner, break your exercise up into several 10- to 15-minute sessions a day until you have built stamina.
Use protection or abstain from sex to minimize your risk for contracting hepatitis B or C, two diseases that can lead to liver scarring, warns MayoClinic.com. Hepatitus B can be transmitted sexually, and hepatitus C can be passed through blood-to-blood contact, notes the Love Your Liver website.
Get the hepatitis B vaccine, recommends MayoClinic.com. Talk to your physician about whether this vaccine is right for you.
- Taking certain medications and herbal remedies is associated with increased risk for liver damage. These include ginseng, ginkgo biloba, garlic pills and acetaminophen. Talk to your physician about how to safely take these medications. Never mix alcohol and medications. Because your liver is responsible for filtering both, this can lead to damage.
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.