Taking Care of Your Liver

Taking Care of Your Liver
Your liver is a vital organ responsible for over 500 functions, including converting food into energy. Learn about common liver diseases, their symptoms, and ways to protect this essential organ through lifestyle changes and vitamins.

Did you know that your liver carries out over 500 functions including breaking down food and converting it into energy?

It’s one of the body’s most important organs and it needs looking after. It’s one of the only organs in the body that can repair damaged tissue with new cells. It can regenerate if we look after it.

If the liver becomes damaged, you could get liver disease.

What are the types of liver disease?

The most common types are:

Alcohol-related liver disease – Can be caused by regularly drinking too much alcohol

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – This is caused when fat builds up in the liver and is common in people who are very overweight or obese

Hepatitis – You can catch hepatitis from drinking too much alcohol or catching a viral infection

Haemochromatosis – Can be passed from parents to children by a gene that runs in families

Primary biliary cholangitis – Is a disease that is caused by a problem with the immune system

What is liver cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis is caused by different things, but it occurs as a result of long-term damage and scarring (fibrosis) as well as nodules on the liver. The liver tissue, which is normally smooth, over time becomes hard. This is called cirrhosis.

What are the early symptoms of cirrhosis?

You may start by feeling tired and not being able to sleep properly. You could also lose your appetite, stop eating so much because you feel sick, or you are vomiting. This will lead to weight loss.

You might also experience tenderness around the area of the liver and notice blood capillaries that look spider-like on the skin above your waste. Your hands may look red and blotchy.

Later as the liver begins to struggle to function you will notice other symptoms such as yellowing of the whites of the eyes or your skin, dark urine, and trembling hands.

Is liver disease mainly caused by drinking too much alcohol?

No. Drinking too much alcohol is one of the reasons liver disease develops, but it isn’t the only one. You can get liver disease from being overweight, from having to take prescription medicines for another health condition or from your immune system attacking your own body in error.

Can lifestyle changes help to look after my liver?

Yes. If you are overweight and eating too much fat or too many carbohydrates, then it will do your liver good if you try to lose weight.

You can lose weight by dieting and eating more fibre, fruit, and vegetables.  The NHS has a useful weight loss app that you can download. It is a 12-week weight loss plan, and the app helps you to plan your meals and make better food choices.

Try to incorporate some exercise into your day. You don’t need to go to the gym. You can start a walking regime. Start by walking slowly around your local park, or even your garden and build up your stamina so that eventually you can walk for an hour. Use the NHS Active 10 app. Put the app on your phone, and it will record your steps and help you to set goals.

If you are drinking more than the recommended levels of alcohol, then you need to cut down. Try to have two or more days in the week when you don’t drink.

The recommended levels are 14 units of alcohol a week which is equivalent to 6 pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of lower-strength wine. Alcohol Change has a useful unit calculator you can use online. It will tell you how much you drinking or how many units there are in a particular drink.

Are there vitamins I can take for liver health?

Yes. The best vitamins to help liver health are:

  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E

If you want to know more about the best vitamins to take for liver health, come and talk to a member of staff at VSM Pharmacy, we’re always happy to help you make the best choices.

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