5 ways to care for this all-important organ
Your liver, the largest solid organ in your body, is like a general: It oversees about 500 critical jobs, including removing toxins, adjusting cholesterol levels and regulating hormones. You might not think about your liver much, but if it malfunctions, you wouldn’t survive a week. Heed these five tips to keep your liver in tip-top shape:
1. Prevent hepatitis A, B and C. You can be protected against hepatitis A and B, both viral diseases of the liver, through vaccination. While many children have now been immunized, many adults have not. Talk to your doctor if you are at risk. Hepatitis B and C, transmitted through blood and other bodily fluids, can develop into chronic conditions that may eventually destroy your liver. So practice safer sex. Hepatitis A is spread through contact with contaminated food or water. Wash your hands well to decrease the spread of this form of hepatitis.
2. Drink alcohol in moderation. If you think only alcoholics get cirrhosis of the liver, you’re wrong. Just four ounces a day of hard liquor for men and two for women can begin to scar your liver.
3. Use care with medications and herbs. The number one reason clinical trials are stopped or drugs removed from the market is the liver. According to the National Institutes of Health, which has a database of substances known to be toxic to your liver, 20 percent of liver injury in this country is caused by supplements.
4. Wash produce carefully. Pesticides and other toxins can damage your liver. Read warning labels on the chemicals you use, and wash your produce.
5. Exercise and eat right. Avoid fatty liver disease by avoiding obesity.