Common, Everyday Habits that Ruin Your Liver

Liver

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You already know that your liver is one of the most important organs in your body. Every single thing you eat or drink must be processed by your liver. It has a wide variety of functions and plays a vital role in just about every physiological process. Our health is directly related to the health of our liver. The good news here is that no matter what we do to it, the liver can replace damaged cells and even restore itself, to a point. The bad news here is that, after a while, the liver becomes so damaged that it cannot repair itself, especially if we continue our habits that are destroying our liver to being with!

Simple, everyday habits and foods that we are consuming can cause serious liver damage without us ever being aware of it. Are you guilty of some of these? Take a look at the top habits that are slowly killing your liver and ways you can correct this problem.

 

1. Smoking

As if damage to your respiratory system and the risk of oral cancer were not enough, smoking is killing your liver as well. Cigarettes contain toxic chemicals that eventually go through your liver and cause oxidative stress, which creates free radicals. Fibrosis, a process where your liver develops excess tissue in an attempt to repair itself, is also caused by smoking. Your liver function gradually becomes less effective over time in removing toxins from the body. Do yourself (and everyone around you) a favor and stop smoking today.

a glass head filled with many tablets. photo icon for drugs

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2. Pharmaceutical Drug Abuse

We aren’t referring to recreational drug abuse here, although that certainly does damage the liver, but rather the abuse of over the counter or prescription medications. Your liver’s job is to break down toxins in the body, and many pharmaceuticals are considered to be toxins by your liver. These substances are extremely difficult for your liver to break down into harmless substances. The damage from taking these types of medications range from mild liver problems to complete liver dysfunction. Taken in excessive amounts, even some herbs and vitamins can cause liver damage. Vitamin A is a perfect example, as taking too much vitamin A in a single day can literally be toxic to your liver.

One of the most commonly consumed medications that causes serious liver damage is acetaminophen, more commonly known as Tylenol. This is available without a prescription and is found in many cold and flu medications, especially those made for children. This compound is believed to be safe, but if taken for more than a day or two, or in high doses, or in one extremely large dose, it can cause serious liver damage. Consider taking some natural remedies for cold, flu, fever, and pain issues instead of liver damaging pharmaceuticals.

Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock

3. Poor Nutrition

Researchers know all too well that a steady diet of sugary soft drinks, fast food, and saturated fats elevate liver enzymes and damage your liver at the same time.

Don’t think junk foods affect your liver? A study done in 2008 took healthy, young adults in Sweden and asked them to eat two fast food meals each day and stop any form of exercise for a 4 week period.

After this 30 day period, scientists found that all subjects had elevated ALT liver enzymes and had developed the beginnings of fatty liver. This problem gets worse with age. Serious problems develop with a fatty liver if left untreated. Read more how to stop junk food cravings.

Fat Woman At The Table

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4. Obesity

On the heels of poor nutrition, obesity generally follows. Obesity is linked to junk foods and other poor eating habits that can cause as much harm to your liver as drinking or smoking.

Your liver processes and regulates the amount of fat and sugar that goes into your blood at one time, but in those who are overweight, and especially in those who are overweight and are eating junk foods and fast foods, the liver becomes swamped and begins to store the excess fat within its own cells.

When the liver has accumulated enough fat, it becomes inflamed and the damage is done.

Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock

5. Lack of Sleep

Sleep deprivation has so many negative health issues, it’s hard to know where to start! For the sake of this article, we will focus solely on the damage it does to the liver.

The Journal of Anatomy published a study that showed that a lack of sleep causes oxidative stress to the liver. The University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine also showed that those who work night shifts and swing shifts generally suffer from sleep deprivation and often have a wide range of health issues including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

It was also found that those who lack sleep don’t have livers that process fat as efficiently as it should and, instead, stored the fat.

alcohol drinks

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6. Alcohol

This is the one everyone is the most familiar with and perhaps the one that causes the most damage. Excessive alcohol consumption lowers your liver’s ability to remove toxins because your liver has to stop most other functions and focus on changing the alcohol to a less toxic compound. This often results in inflammation, fatty liver disease, and, over time, actually damages the liver cells themselves. Continued damage to the liver cells eventually becomes permanent and causes cirrhosis of the liver, which can lead to liver failure.

 

SEE ALSO: How Alcohol Affects The Body Infographic

 

Excessive alcohol intake not only degrades your liver and damages its cells; when the liver tries to repair the damage, it sometimes leads to mutations that can start other types of cancer within the body.

All of the things listed above that cause liver damage are all completely under your control- every single one. You can reverse most liver damage, providing that it hasn’t gone too far, by quitting smoking, not drinking in excess, not abusing medications and over the counter drugs, and by eating a healthy, plant-based diet, and losing weight through healthy eating and exercise.

You can also try taking B-complex vitamin supplements. B12 is very important to the liver, as it helps with the flow of bile and helps aid in the livers detoxification efforts. B12 is available mainly through meat products, but since B vitamins work together, a B-complex supplement is generally the best way to go.

To help the liver get rid of its stored fat, consider taking lecithin and sulphur supplements, or eat foods that naturally contain these compounds such as egg yolks, fish, cauliflower, cabbage, garlic, onions, legumes, and wheat germ.

References:

Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Liverfoundation.org

Gut.bmj.com