The second largest organ in the body, liver plays a crucial role in digestion, making it absolutely essential to take care of it. To raise awareness about the same and the various liver-related diseases, World Liver Day is observed on April 19, every year.
According to Dr Ashutosh Niranjan, dean and professor, General Surgery, Noida International Institute of Medical Sciences, “The liver is responsible for performing the most crucial functions related to digestion, immunity, storage of absorbed nutrients, excretion and metabolism. Keeping your liver in good shape is the key to preventing liver diseases.”
The liver, however, doesn’t show immediate signs and symptoms of deterioration unless damaged severely. So, one must consult an expert in case of nausea, vomiting, pain in the upper abdomen, and symptoms of jaundice, the expert said.
Talking about the common factors harming liver health, Dr Vinoda Kumary, deputy chief medical officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute added, “For most people, it does not function optimally as it is overburdened with both environmental and dietary toxins. Poor lifestyles, unhealthy eating habits, and the presence of dangerous pesticides and heavy metals in food are factors responsible for over-stressing our liver.”
Here are a few safe and effective habits that will keep your liver healthy, according to Dr Kumary.
Have a liver and gut-friendly diet
Your diet should be balanced, healthy and must contain nutrients that promote gut and liver health. “A 6 per cent reduction in body weight can reduce the fat levels in your liver by up to 40 per cent, taking a massive load off the body’s detoxifying organ,” the expert said.
“Maintain ideal weight, avoid processed foods, addictive drinks like alcohol and caffeine, and consume more whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, sprouts, seeds, nuts, and beans. Drink 3 to 4 litres of water, as it promotes proper digestion and helps the lymphatic system function optimally.”
Try intermittent fasting
“Once you have overhauled your diet regimen, you can try intermittent fasting once every week,” she suggested. She added that during fasts, the liver cells produce a protein that helps improve sugar metabolism and reduce the levels of fat. Fasting also promotes autophagy, which is when the healthy cells in the body eat up the unhealthy cells, promoting cellular detox.
Use supplements strategically
“Certain supplements have shown to support liver health by reducing inflammation, guarding the body against injuries from toxins or chemicals, stimulating the production of bile, and more,” Dr Kumary said. She also suggested having buttermilk as it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. “Studies have shown that it helps regenerate liver cells and protects it from damage caused by harmful substances like acetaminophen and alcohol. It also boosts levels of glutathione, which is a potent antioxidant that fights free radical damage.”
Similarly, turmeric protects the liver from injury by reducing oxidative stress and increasing the production of glutathione. It also stimulates the production of bile, which is responsible for digesting fats in our small intestine.
There are two ways to get rid of the toxins in your body. The first method is to improve the functioning of the liver, and the second method is to sweat them out, according to Dr Kumary. The skin is the largest organ in our body, and sweating is the most effective way to get toxins out of your system.
Yoga offers several benefits, including detoxification. With twist variations and proper alignment, you can significantly improve digestion and detoxify your liver, which will help remove toxins from your body. She suggested performing Marichyasana as it is “very effective in massaging the internal organs and promoting optimal function”.
Additionally, Dr Niranjan asked to take special care if you have Hepatitis B and C by avoiding unnecessary sharing of toothbrushes, razors, needles, and other personal care items. “Follow the prescribed medicines routine and get the vaccination for Hepatitis A and B done,” he said.