According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 5 million American adults are diagnosed with chronic liver disease every year. And as October is National Liver Awareness Month, we are going to provide you with information pertaining to the importance of the liver along with some ways to help keep your liver healthy.
What Causes Liver Diseases?
The liver performs many critical metabolic functions, including processing and distribution of nutrients. Liver diseases can be caused by infection, such as hepatitis B and C, or by genetic mutations. Other liver diseases can be triggered by autoimmune reactions or drug toxicity. The rise in obesity in the United States has led to a rise in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Many liver diseases place individuals at higher risk for developing liver cancer.
Types of Liver Diseases
Liver diseases come in many forms, many of which are interrelated and can lead to further health complications. Some types of diseases that negatively impact the liver include:
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
- Wilson Disease
Cirrhosis is one of the more common types of liver disease, so we are going to provide you with some relevant information correlating with this health condition.
Cirrhosis is a condition in which your liver is scarred and permanently damaged. Scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and prevents your liver from working normally. As cirrhosis gets worse, your liver begins to fail.
Symptoms & Causes
Cirrhosis has many signs and symptoms, such as fatigue and severe itchy skin. They may not appear until the liver is badly damaged. Causes include alcoholic liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic hepatitis C, and chronic hepatitis B.
Doctors diagnose cirrhosis based on your medical history, a physical exam, and the results of tests. Tests include blood tests such as liver function tests and tests for viral infections, imaging tests, and liver biopsy.
Eating, Diet, & Nutrition
If you have cirrhosis, you should eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Talk with your doctor, a dietitian, or nutritionist about healthy eating. Avoid foods and drinks that can damage your liver, such as shellfish and alcohol.
Keeping Your Liver Healthy
While certain liver diseases are caused by unpreventable factors, many of them can be avoided with a proactive, health-conscious approach.
Keep Physically Active
Exercising on a regular basis has a multitude of positive impacts on both your physical and mental well-being. And it can also reduce liver fat which can potentially lead to serious health conditions if left unchecked.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
When consumed in excess, alcohol can harm your liver cells and lead to cirrhosis or other forms of liver disease. This is one of the many reasons it is important not to overconsume alcohol and other potentially harmful toxins.
Vaccines have been developed for certain diseases that harm your liver including hepatitis A and B. Getting vaccinated for these diseases as recommended by a medical professional is an easy way to prevent unnecessary damage to your liver.
Drinking water throughout the day and eating a well-balanced diet including fibers from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, along with foods containing healthy monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats can help boost liver health. Try to limit your intake of carbs, saturated fats, and raw shellfish.