Like most of our organs, our liver works behind the scenes to make sure our bodies are healthy and function well for all we put them through. For many people, liver health is only an afterthought following a night out drinking or eating an indulgent meal. However, keeping our livers happy is key for our long-term health. But what exactly is the function of the liver? And how can we take care of it better?
What does the liver do?
When it comes to living a long and healthy life, your liver is one of your greatest allies. About the size of an American football, it’s the second largest organ in the human body (the first is your skin, believe it or not). Your liver is constantly performing many critical functions for your body, such as:
- Removing toxins, including alcohol, medications, and other contaminants that enter the body
- Aiding immune response in fighting disease
- Managing blood sugar levels
- Producing bile, albumin, and other chemicals that regulate hormones and metabolism
How to Improve Liver Health
1. Limit Alcohol Usage
Excessive alcohol usage can lead to several liver diseases, including alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and ultimately even liver failure. Though the exact amount of safe alcohol consumption will vary from person to person, the CDC currently advises no more than two drinks a day for men, or one drink a day for women.
2. Follow Medication Guidelines
Several medications, both prescription and over the counter, can have adverse effects on your liver. Follow the guidelines given for each medication, and talk to your doctor if using several medications at once. You should also be cautious regarding both dietary supplements and illicit drug usage. Since your liver is responsible for processing toxins in and produced by these products, they can often cause unintended damage. And in the case of illicit drugs, they don’t tend to come with a warning label and dosage guidelines.
3. Practice a Healthy Diet
Following the healthy diet has many benefits for your whole body, but it will also improve your liver health. This means avoiding foods with high amounts of refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, salt, or sugar. Instead, focus on eating a balanced diet of whole foods, healthy fats, and lean proteins. If you already suffer from liver disease or have a compromised liver, there are also several, more specialized diets to suit your needs.
Like a healthy diet, exercise comes with more benefits than simply improving your liver health. For your liver’s sake, however, it helps your body effectively burn triglycerides and avoid nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
5. Stay Up To Date With Vaccines
Hepatitis is a viral infection that results in the inflammation of the liver. While there is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C, you should be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. People who have hepatitis are at higher risk of liver disease and liver cancer.
6. Practice Good Hygiene
There are several ways to practice good hygiene. Some of the most important ones include:
- Washing hands regularly
- Avoiding sharing or using contaminated needles
- Avoiding sharing personal hygiene products, such as toothbrushes, razors, or nail clippers
- Practicing safe sex
- Avoiding airborne toxins from cleaning products, aerosols, and insecticides
If You Need Help Improving Your Liver Health, Nurse Practitioners of Florida Can Help
At Nurse Practitioners of Florida, we have a dedicated team of certified nurse practitioners who have an unwavering commitment to providing you with care and compassion. When you call any of our locations, you will be greeted by a live person who’s ready to offer acute medical care as well as preventive measures — including flu vaccines. And, above everything else, you will be treated like family.