7 easy ways to keep your liver healthy

The liver has remarkable regenerative powers. But it can slow down as we get older, so it's something worth looking after. Here’s a few ways to give your liver some love.

1. Trade alcohol for a coffee

Cutting back on alcohol is an easy way to improve your overall health. When it comes to the liver, a study by New Scientist found that a month of alcohol abstinence, led to a 15-20% reduction in liver fat1, a precursor to liver disease. Making small adjustments to your diet, such as subbing in a non-alcoholic alternative can have long-lasting benefits when it comes to your body’s detoxification centre.

For coffee enthusiasts, a study published in the Journal of Hepatology has revealed that drinking even one cup of coffee reduces your risk of hepatocellular cancer. Hepatocellular cancer is the most common form of liver cancer – one cup sees a reduction of 20%, while up to five cups a day reduces risk by 50%.2 The great news is decaffeinated coffee works too, so you can reduce your risk without getting the jitters.

2. Try winding down at night with a dandelion tea

If you’re in the habit of pouring yourself a glass of wine or whiskey to wind down the day, try adding dandelion tea to your routine instead. It can be found in the tea and coffee section of your supermarket or at a health food store. Dandelion is rich in flavour and can do wonders for your health. It has long been used in traditional medicine and by many for its remedial qualities. A study published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal found that dandelion leaf extract had huge potential in therapeutic use for the liver.3

3. Keep an eye on your supplement dosage

Supplements seem like a suitable solution to provide our bodies with extra care. However, overuse can put pressure on the liver.

Unnecessary iron and vitamin A can be particularly strenuous for this salient organ, as the body doesn’t eliminate excess if your dosage is too high4. The correct dosage will depend on many health factors worth discussing with the experts. These supplements can take a toll on your liver as they can cause it to work harder than it needs to.

4. Moderate your paracetamol intake

Another medication to watch is paracetamol. Many of us reach for it to ease a headache, but prolonged use or larger doses than recommended can quickly become a serious issue for the liver. The recommended dose from Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration for adults and children is 500-1000mg every four to six hours, with a maximum of 4000mg over 24 hours5.

If you have a liver condition, it’s recommended you rarely use paracetamol. As found by a study published by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, it can put extra pressure on this remarkable organ and increase the chances of hepatotoxicity6.

5. Consume delicious wholefoods with a sprinkle of nature’s superfoods

The organisation LiverWELL advocates for nutrition as a great preventative tool to support your liver. Explore their helpful ‘Eating Well Lifestyle Guide’7, which includes handy wholefood recipes to support over 50s health. As they highlight in the guide, fatty liver disease often occurs when excess fat is stored in the liver. A great way to reduce the amount of fat stored in the liver is to nourish your body with fibre from wholegrains, such as rye bread, plant-based protein like lentils, or a wide variety of seasonal fruit and vegetables.

There are no magical foods that will protect your liver. However, as recommended by LiverWELL7 including these 12 ‘super foods’ in your diet can help keep your body in tip top shape:

  • Almonds
  • Oats
  • Blueberries
  • Salmon
  • Soybeans
  • Tea
  • Yoghurt
  • Broccoli
  • Kidney beans
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin
  • Beetroot.

6. Move your body with regular physical activity

Exercise is also an important factor in keeping your liver well. A recent study by the Department of Hepatology at Westmead Hospital and the University of Sydney revealed even small amounts of exercise were effective in reducing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Participants of the study all showed improvement in liver fat of about 18-29%, even though they undertook varying levels of intensity in their exercise regimen8.

As well as fighting non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), maintaining a healthy weight is important for liver function. A fast-paced walk increases your heart rate and will help your liver to produce necessary nutrients for digestion. Movement can also help the liver to convert amino acids into glucose to keep you energised.

7. Keep on top with regular blood test

A liver function test is covered by PBS in Australia and is the best way to identify any liver condition that may be causing you discomfort. Where your results show there may be a need for further investigation or treatment, your health insurance with Apia could cover you. Speaking to your GP about these routine tests is strongly recommended for those over 50.

Make sure you’re covered with health insurance

Supporting your liver is one way of taking care of your health. Another is getting the right health insurance. Apia Health Insurance offers three levels of cover for both Hospital and Extras, enabling you to choose a policy that suits your needs, covering you for many liver conditions.

Learn more about Health Insurance

  1. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129502-600-our-liver-vacation-is-a-dry-january-really-worth-it/
  2. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/7/5/e013739.full?ijkey=PdzUkpR0ZSqp8Cu&keytype=ref
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/42610641_In_vitro_and_in_vivo_hepatoprotective_effects_of_the_aqueous_extract_from_Taraxacum_officinale_dandelion_root_against_alcohol-induced_oxidative_stress
  4. https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/iron
  5. https://www.tga.gov.au/community-qa/recommended-paracetamol-doses
  6. https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bcp.13656
  7. https://www.hepvic.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Eating-Well-lifestyle-guide.pdf
  8. https://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/new-study-indicates-that-exercise-improves-non-alcoholic-fatty-liver-disease

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