Liver Lines: Summer Health


Summer is here and the time is right for thinking about getting and staying healthy. It is a
time to be outdoors, to exercise and to eat right. Summer is a great time to think about our

(Jamie Street/Unsplash)

How can we keep our livers healthy? The key to a healthy liver is a healthy diet. A good
healthy diet requires common sense. What is considered a healthy diet? Eating lots of
fruits and vegetables, minimizing fatty foods, drinking plenty of water and watching
alcohol intake can keep a liver healthy. This does not mean that any food is completely
off limits. A commonsense approach means that people have to think carefully when
deciding what to eat and also equally important, knowing when they have had enough. In
general, a good healthy, heart friendly diet is good for the liver. This means concentrating
on a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol and minimizes carbohydrates. Portion control is
critical to success. The best diet allows the person to eat what they like, within reason, to
eat slowly, and to not let yourself become ravenous. It is important to drink plenty of
non-caloric liquids during the day. That means that sodas are out, even diet ones! Water
is truly the best fluid.

Many people ask about health food store products that fall under the category of “liver
cleanser”? Liver cleansers make no sense from a physiologic standpoint, as the liver
cannot be cleansed. To sum up regarding liver cleansers, they are nonsense.

What can people with liver disease do to stay healthy? The answer is also simple. Diet
and exercise are the keys to health. Since the most common liver condition is fatty liver,
whether from poor eating habits, obesity, diabetes or alcohol, and the incidence of
complications of this condition are on the rise, weight loss, following a good diet and
exercise may prevent disease progression and lead to disease regression. The floodgates
of liver related complications are opening as our population keeps growing (around the
waist) and the incidence of diabetes, especially amongst our youth, it rising
exponentially. Perhaps with an emphasis on healthy living, disease can be prevented.

What can people with liver diseases other than fatty liver do to help their livers? The
answer again comes down to diet and exercise. In addition, alcohol should be taken
judiciously and in limited quantities. Avoidance of health food store products and herbal
products may also help prevent disease exacerbation. Although 99 percent of these products are
safe, some may cause problems. Before someone with liver disease starts one of these
products, they should make sure that they have discussed it with their doctor.

Most liver disease in the United States can be prevented. Aside from specific liver
diseases with specific therapies such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and primary biliary
cholangitis, following a healthy diet, exercising, minimizing alcohol intake and using
common sense will keep the liver healthy and may help prevent disease progression in
livers affected by chronic disease.

“Liver Lines” by David Bernstein, MD, MACG, FAASL, AGAF, FACP


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