The liver is an organ that does so much for the body, yet it is often so little thought of. The liver is actually the largest solid organ in the body, weighing in at about 3 pounds and is crucial for ensuring the body is kept free from toxins by filtering the blood. It is also a storage house for fat-soluble vitamins such as copper and iron. The liver does a host of other functions including producing bile which is crucial for carrying away body waste and breaking down fats during digestion.
Reasons for liver failure
The most common reason for liver failure is cirrhosis which is when the liver becomes scarred from repeated abuse, very often by excessive alcohol consumption or chronic hepatitis infection. There is also fatty liver disease which is a buildup of fatty tissue in the liver.
When to see your doctor
You can become concerned your liver isn’t working well and see your doctor if you are having loss of appetite, blood in your stool, nausea, vomiting blood, jaundice and pain and swelling in your abdomen.
How to care for the liver
- Avoid alcohol consumption or medications that can harm the liver
- Avoid cholesterol and processed foods including red meat, cheese and eggs
- Follow a whole food plant-based diet including lots of fiber and greens
- Reduce salt intake
- Ensure your blood pressure and sugar levels are controlled
- Follow an overall healthy lifestyle including keeping your weight within a healthy range
- Avoid fried and sugary foods
Foods which boost liver health
- Grapefruit: contains antioxidants which are naturally protective for the liver
- Greens: contains compounds that help fight fatty liver disease
- Cruciferous vegetables: high in fiber and contain beneficial plant compounds that increase detoxification enzymes and also protect the liver from damage
- Nuts: Improves liver enzyme levels and reduces risk of developing liver disease
- Turmeric: contains curcumin and high doses mitigates against liver damage
To your health,
Dona Cooper-Dockery, MD