5 Ways To Protect Your Liver From “Festive Season” Damage
When most of us think of liver health, the first thing that comes to mind is alcohol. How many times have you heard someone (or yourself) say: “I need to take a break from drinking for my liver’s sake.” But alcohol is not the only thing that can have a scathing effect on your liver’s wellbeing this holiday season.
What you eat, certain non-alcoholic drinks and your weight all play an important part in keeping your liver in tip-top condition. The festive season might as well be called “The Season of Guiltless Overindulgence” — this is why it’s important to be a little more vigilant than you normally would.
Your liver is one of the most important and most complex organs in your body. According to John Hopkins Medicine, your liver performs over 500 vital functions. It’s definitely not one to ignore…
The good news? it’s not actually that complicated to constantly have your liver in mind and make better decisions. The bad news? You really do have to cut down on the alcohol… and a lot of other things.
Let’s take a look at some of the most simple ways you can take care of your liver this party season:
Always stay hydrated
Top of the liver’s to-do list is to cleanse the blood that circulates your body, remove toxins, store vitamins and minerals and turn nutrients into energy. Staying hydrated is vital for your liver to perform these functions at an optimal level. Dehydration can hinder the liver’s ability to properly detoxify our bodies efficiently, which can lead to a myriad of complications.
Every time you’re feeling thirsty, make sure water is the first thing you grab before anything else. And always make sure that wherever you are, you have water close by. And, most importantly, stay hydrated when you’re drinking alcohol. Read our guide on just how much water you really need to drink each day here.
Watch what you eat
The festive season has developed a “weight-gain-period” reputation, mostly because we tend to eat a lot more (junk, but delicious junk!) in a short space of time. Now, we’re not saying you need to deprive yourself completely (it’s a good-time season after all), but try your best to stick to a balanced diet. This means avoiding fried food, junk food and high-sugar (particularly refined sugar) items. These tend to lead to weight gain and being overweight or obese significantly increases your risk of developing liver disease.
Maintain a balance of fibre (fruit, vegetables, whole-grain bread, rice and certain cereals), meat (red meat — in moderation, though), dairy and ‘good’ fats like nuts, seeds and fish.
Limit your… alcohol consumption
Overconsumption of alcohol can literally scar your liver, and it’s a leading risk factor for several liver-related health conditions. But we all know this.
Eight or more drinks a week is generally considered heavy drinking for women. According to the Addiction Centre, chronic alcohol abuse damages liver cells over time, which leads to liver-related conditions. Just one binge-drinking session places immense pressure on your liver, so let’s try to be a bit kinder to it this time around.
With that said, where alcohol is concerned, it’s important to speak to your doctor to find out what amount of alcohol is safe for you. You might be surprised to hear your doc tell say you shouldn’t be consuming alcohol at all.
But if you’re going to be drinking anyway, try to remain mindful every time and keep your consumption in moderation.
Don’t stop exercising
While it might seem like a bit of a mission, try to stay active throughout your holiday — wherever you are. Being overweight is a risk factor for liver disease and maintaining/losing weight will significantly reduce your risk.
Practice safe sex
Yes, safe sex is also important for your liver! TIME reports that the most common birthday is September 9th (the most shared birthday) — what does this tell us? That there’s a lot of sex happening in December.
What does this have to do with your liver? Well, Hepatitis B and C can be transmitted through unprotected sex, and these can become chronic conditions that can eventually destroy your liver.
Most importantly, remember to have fun and never miss an opportunity to laugh!