Detecting any liver disease poses a challenge as most liver diseases do not show obvious symptoms until the condition has caused severe damage to the liver. Therefore, it is advisable to always take precautions to keep your liver healthy rather than treat the liver for any disease. It is essential for people to regularly monitor their liver’s health and take necessary precautions to avoid liver infections.
Here are 13 tried-and-true steps to achieve liver wellness;
- Healthy weight: In case of obesity or overweight, you are prone to a fatty liver that leads to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), one of the fastest-growing forms of liver disease. Weight loss can play a pivotal role in reducing liver fat.
- Balanced Diet: Ensure that your body is in a caloric deficit by reducing the intake of saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and processed sugars. Avoid eating raw or undercooked shellfish for a well-balanced diet, including fibres from sources such as fresh fruits, green and leafy vegetables, whole-grain bread, rice and cereals. Also, include meat (avoid red meat), dairy and healthy fats such as vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and fish. Hydration is essential, so drink a lot of water.
- Exercise regularly: When you exercise consistently, it helps burn triglycerides for fuel and reduce fat deposits on the liver.
- Avoid toxins: Toxins injure liver cells. Avoid direct contact with toxins that release into the air. When using aerosols, ensure proper ventilation in the room, and cover oral and nasal cavities wearing a mask. Quit smoking.
- Use alcohol responsibly: Alcoholic beverages cause a wide range of health problems. They can damage and scar your liver cells. Consult with your doctor about the prescribed limit for alcohol intake. Your doctor may advise you to drink alcohol only in moderation or quit altogether.
- Avoid illicit drugs: In 2012, nearly 24 million Americans aged 12 or older were current illicit drug users, meaning they had used an illegal drug during the month before the survey interview. This estimate represents 9.2 per cent of the population aged 12 or older. These illicit drugs include marijuana/hashish, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, prescription-based pain relievers, tranquillisers, stimulants, and non-medical sedatives.
- Avoid contaminated needles: Unsanitised needles are connected with intravenous drug intake and tattoos and piercings. You must consult a medical practitioner and seek testing following any skin penetration that involves sharp instruments or needles. Unsafe injection practices are rare but can occur anywhere, including a hospital setting and could need immediate medical attention. Also, use only sanitised needles and instruments for tattoos and body piercings.
- Medical care after exposure to infected blood: Contact your liver specialist immediately if you come into contact with an infected blood sample. If needed, visit your nearest Liver Hospital for immediate attention.
- Don’t share personal hygiene items: Avoid sharing personal grooming and hygiene items such as razors, toothbrushes and nail clippers that can carry microscopic blood levels or other contaminated body fluids.
- Practice Safe sex: Unprotected or polygamous sexual contact makes you vulnerable to a higher risk of hepatitis B and C.
- Wash your hands: Practise basic personal hygiene measures, including soap and warm water after attending nature’s call, after changing a diaper, and before preparing and eating your meals.
- Follow directions on all medications: Incorrect and unprescribed intake of medicines, the wrong type or mixing medicines, incorrect remedies mixed in the bad combinations can harm your liver. Avoid mixing alcohol with other drugs and medications, even when you don’t consume it simultaneously. Inform your doctor about any self-prescribed over-the-counter medicines, nutritional supplements, and natural or herbal remedies that you consume.
- Get vaccinated against the hepatitis virus: Vaccines against hepatitis A and B are available. The unavailability of vaccination against hepatitis C is a growing concern.