Liver disease, as per the World Health Organisation, is the tenth most common cause of death in India and affects nearly twenty five percent of the people globally. Liver health is a matter of grave concern for it is said that nearly ten lakh new cases of liver cirrhosis are detected on an annual basis in India.
The liver, located in the upper right-hand portion of the abdominal cavity, is one of the biggest organs in the human body and is responsible for detoxing the body and breaking down complex carbohydrates into glucose. It also stores the essential nutrients and creates bile, which helps absorb nutrients from food.
In order to protect one’s liver health and ensure that you effectively fight liver disease, the following elements must be included in the diet. A variety of plant foods like avocado, banana, barley, beets, broccoli, brown rice, carrots, fig, lemon, papaya, watermelon and kale can protect the liver against diseases. Including these foods in one’s daily diet can provide the right can of help activate one’s natural body defences to fight liver disease.
It is specially recommended that one consumes blueberries, raspberries and cranberries, for they contain antioxidants called polyphenols, which help save the liver from getting severely damaged. Even grapes, grape seeds and grapes juice, rich in antioxidants, promote overall liver health by decreasing inflammation and preventing liver damage.
Adding olive oil to one’s diet is also a great idea. The high content of unsaturated fatty acids in olive oil is just the right medicine to help improve the liver functioning due to reduced oxidative stress. Walnuts and nuts, rich in Omega 3 can also be consumed.
A lot of cases of liver disease are triggered by obesity and consuming garlic reduces body weight and fat content in people suffering from the same, with no changes to lean body mass. The liver can regain its normal functioning once the extra weight is shed, thereby effectively restoring liver health to the optimum levels.
Tofu is a good addition to one’s diet as it is low in fat and high in protein and decreases fat build up in the liver to a significant extent. Consuming soy protein is recommended because it contains isoflavones, an antioxidant that helps enhance insulin sensitivity and diminish fat levels in the body.
A special mention must be made of oatmeal; it is not termed as one of the healthiest breakfast choices for nothing! Replete with fibre, oatmeal is also high in a compound called beta-glucans which is responsible for modulating the immune system, reducing inflammation and reducing the amount of fat stored in the liver. Including this is one’s diet will be highly beneficial. This can also be coupled with nuts, another excellent source to keep up liver health. Nuts are said to have unsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E and antioxidants, all of which are crucial to keep the liver in good condition!
With regard to the beverages that can be consumed, green tea is a definitive yes, for it can help reduce the overall fat content in the liver and can fight oxidative stress – two leading causes of liver disease. It has also been proved through numerous studies that coffee reduces the risk of chronic liver disease and protects the liver against fatty liver disease and liver cancer.
For those who wish to include some meat in their diets, consuming fatty fish and fish oil supplements can be beneficial for alleviating the risks of liver disease. These sources are rich in omega 3 fatty acids which help restore liver health.
There are certain beverages and foods that must be avoided at all costs, and alcohol tops that list. Highly processed foods such as white bread, rice, and pasta must be avoided as they lack fibre and add excessively to blood sugar levels. Fried foods that are high in fat and calories are not good for the liver and must be avoided.
It is best to stay away from sugary foods such as candy, cookies, sodas, and fruit juices as high blood sugar increases the amount of fat buildup in the liver and can increase the risks of liver disease. Red meat such as beef and deli meats must be avoided at all costs to safeguard one’s liver health. The consumption of salt is permitted, but up to a limit of 1,500 milligrams per day. Eating too much salt can make the body hold on to excess water and hence, strictly controlling the intake is a necessity.
The liver, like all other parts of the body, must be taken care of with the right kind of diet. Imbalances or deficiencies in core nutrients can have irreversible effects – which is why one must be cautious with the kind of food/ beverage he or she consumes. To sum it up, consuming a low fat, low sugar and low rice diet not amounting to more than 1400 calories a day and having a high fibre diet (coupled with regular exercise) is the safest and the easiest way to keep liver damage at bay!