Did you know you can help prevent many diseases by taking care of your liver? Your liver processes everything you eat, drink, breathe and absorb. It helps digest alcohol and most drugs, breaks down toxins and converts food into energy—just to name a few functions. The American Liver Foundation says that to maintain a lively liver, you should:
Liquor and your liver:
Not a perfect pair
You can’t know for sure how much alcohol your liver can tolerate before it becomes damaged. For that reason, consider these facts:
- Taking medication that contains acetaminophen and drinking just a small amount of alcohol can harm your liver.
- Your liver may be more sensitive to alcohol than your parent’s or sibling’s liver is. Even one drink a day could be too much for you.
- Women are more likely than men to suffer liver damage from alcohol.
- Symptoms of liver damage may not show up for years.
- Early detection of disorders can help you avoid permanent liver damage. Be honest when you talk with your doctor about the amount of alcohol you consume.
- Have a healthy lifestyle. Eating a healthy diet, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight help your liver work well. Cut down on fried, fatty foods. Eat foods high in fiber. Enjoy a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads, rice and cereals. Also exercise regularly.
- Go softly on spirits. Men should limit alcohol intake to no more than two drinks a day, and women shouldn’t have more than one drink. If you’ve been diagnosed with liver disease, avoid alcohol completely.
- Manage your medications. The liver can be harmed by taking too much or the wrong type of medication. Additionally, certain combinations of medications and/or supplements can damage the liver. Be careful taking over-the-counter and prescription medications and ask your doctor or pharmacist about drug interactions and safe doses of vitamins, nutritional products and herbal remedies.
- Be cautious with chemicals. Handle harsh cleansers, aerosol products and insecticides with care and use only as directed. Do not smoke and avoid tobacco.
- Consider hepatitis A and B vaccinations. Hepatitis can severely damage the liver. There are very effective, safe vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Today, children in the U.S. routinely receive the hepatitis B vaccine as infants. Some children also receive hepatitis A vaccinations. Individuals at high risk for hepatitis A or B should be vaccinated.
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