According to the American Liver Foundation, more than 100 million Americans have some form of liver disease, and most of them are unaware of it. That’s bad news for a lot of people, considering the liver performs more than 500 vital functions in the body. For seniors, the risk is even higher due to the effects of aging. But now for some good news: Because the liver can regenerate and heal itself, you can take steps to improve your liver’s health or even reverse the course of some types of liver disease.
No, we’re not talking about the “liver detox,” so commonly promoted on social media. In fact, many doctors warn that those programs are useless at best and can actually be harmful at times. Instead, simply leading a healthier lifestyle is the best way to support this vital organ.
Viral hepatitis used to cause the most cases of liver disease, but luckily that problem has declined over recent decades. However, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is on the rise, possibly due to dietary habits and widespread obesity, and anyone who regularly drinks alcohol is vulnerable to liver damage.
Regardless of your age, here are a few tips to promote liver health and even heal from some liver conditions:
- Eat a healthy diet, low in saturated fat and higher in fruits and vegetables.
- Limit sugar and soda in your diet
- Lose weight and follow a program to maintain your new lower weight.
- Stay active by exercising regularly. Simple walks around the neighborhood can do wonders for your physical and mental health!
- Drink less alcohol or quit altogether.
- Avoid dietary supplements without a doctor’s oversight.
That last one might surprise you. Yes, many dietary supplements can actually be toxic to the liver, so you always want to consult with a doctor or nutritionist before using them. Because supplements aren’t subject to the same oversight as drugs, you can’t always be sure what’s in them and in what amounts.
Since 100 million represents a sizable portion of our population, any of us could have early-stage liver disease without even knowing it. Talk to your doctor if you’ve experienced any concerning symptoms. Otherwise, everyone should be following a reasonably healthy diet and exercise regimen and avoiding potentially toxic elements in their daily lives.