Understanding the Role of Diet in Liver Health
The liver is the largest internal organ and performs many vital functions in the human body. It is involved in several functions that are important for survival. Among many vital functions performed by the liver is digestion of nutrients and fats, detoxification, filters the blood, production of proteins, regulating blood levels and iron, storage of energy, and many more. Apart from detoxification and filtering the blood, the liver also helps in fighting the pathogens and bacteria in the body.
The liver plays an important role in the metabolization of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, and it produces bile which helps in the breakdown and absorption of fats and some vitamins. The organ also acts as a storage reserve for minerals, and glycogen. All this points to the importance of a healthy liver. As the liver itself is involved in detoxification, it can maintain good health. But with an excessive load of toxins, liver cells begin to get damaged and cause several kinds of health problems. There are various liver diseases, acquired or genetic, that can affect its ability to perform normal functions.
Severe liver damage due to certain acute or chronic diseases can lead to liver failure. This can be a life-threatening condition. Many types of chronic liver diseases are irreversible. A person in such a condition may need a liver transplant. It is a major surgical procedure that involves expertise and high-end technology. Liver transplant cost in India is comparatively lower than other countries, especially in the Western countries, but with equally good quality of acre. The living donor liver transplantation programs at Indian hospitals are ranked among the best in the Asia and even the world.
One of the most common reasons for liver diseases is the excess consumption of alcohol over a long period of time. Although, alcohol consumption occasionally or in a moderate amount may not cause irreversible damage to the liver, but prolonged alcohol abuse may cause severe damage, leading to cirrhosis. It can also lead to a build-up of fatty deposits in the liver, resulting in loss of its ability to function normally. Other products such as steroid supplements, usually taken by professional bodybuilders, trainers or even athletes may also cause serious liver damage. Apart from alcohol and steroids, excessive intake of sugars may also negatively affect the liver, and can cause fatty liver. As obesity is frequently linked to the occurrence of fatty liver, it is important to avoid food items that may increase weight. This shows that for good liver health it is imperative to take care of the diet.
Importance of Diet for Liver health
Many studies have reported the role of diet in maintaining the well-being of the human body as well as the liver. A healthy and balanced diet full of nutrition with appropriate proportions of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and vitamins and minerals. Similarly, an unhealthy diet and bad eating habits can result in the development of the fatty liver. Research has indicated that giving up unhealthy dietary habits can help reverse the damage. As some liver diseases are also associated with obesity, 90% of morbidly obese people are thought to suffer from fatty livers. Not only this, obesity is also known to speed the damage caused by other conditions such as alcoholic liver disease and reduce the effectiveness of treatments for viral infections such as hepatitis C.
Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight is important. For this, it is necessary to balance the quantity and quality of food in your diet to manage the energy needed by the body. Also, with a good diet, regular exercise, and workout is also important for good overall health.
For a liver patient, the doctor will recommend a diet plan adjusted to meet the needs of an individual.
Here are some food tips that are generally suggested for a healthy liver:
Fat and Fried Foods :
Avoid foods with high levels of fat, sugar and salt. Fried foods such as meals from fast food restaurant are mainly to be avoided. Also, raw or undercooked sea food such as oysters and clams are not good for liver patients.
Limit alcohol consumption:
All people should be careful about their alcohol intake, bit for liver patients it’s even more important. Depending on the state of the liver, the doctor will give instructions. If the patient is allowed to have alcohol, it is usually limited it to only one drink a day for a woman and two drinks a day for a man.
A balanced diet with multiple grains, vegetables, green leafy vegetables, fruits, meat, beans, and milk.
Fiber helps the liver work well and at optimal levels. There are many fruits, vegetables, whole-grain slices of bread, and other items that can help meet the body’s fibre needs.
Plenty of water:
This is to prevent dehydration and helps keep the liver functions at best.
Regularly drinking coffee in moderate amounts also help prevent liver cancer. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also confirmed that coffee is linked to a reduced risk of liver cancer and other liver conditions such as fibrosis (formation of scar tissue within the liver) and cirrhosis.
So, these are the tips you need to follow to prevent liver diseases.
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Dr. Suneet is a doctor-turned-Hospital Administrator with a rich 12 years plus multi-faceted experience in the field of operations management, Corporate and Public Health Administration. Formerly a practicing doctor, Dr. Suneet holds a post-graduate degree in Hospital and Healthcare management from one of the country’s esteemed Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).