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DOCTOR AT THE DESK

VIL - Very Important Liver

"Liver function and health"
By: Mel Mordeno Beluan, MDVIL - Very Important Liver

How important is the liver?

The liver has been multitasking long before multitasking became a sport among workaholics. It:

  • processes food,
  • controls entry of nutrients into the bloodstream,
  • helps fight infections or infectious agents,
  • clears the blood of foreign particles,
  • detoxifies poisons,
  • helps in digestion by making bile,
  • stores nutrients like carbohydrates, vitamins, and iron, among others,
  • converts food to energy,
  • synthesizes and regulates hormones, and
  • synthesizes other biomolecules, including proteins and enzymes involved in healing and protection from injury.

How can you maintain a healthy liver? 

First, understand what it does for your body.

Second, accept the fact that no liver is perfect. It is not made of steel or titanium, only liver material. If it multitasks to a fault, it is prone to abuse and can suffer from sickness. Common liver conditions include fatty liver, jaundice, hepatitis, cirrhosis, cyst, cancer, and abscess.

Third, know what causes such conditions. The conditions above can be caused by or are associated with the following things: alcoholism, exposure to viruses and other infectious agents, infected/contaminated body fluids, and exposure to certain chemicals (like aflatoxin in moldy peanuts). Other risk factors include diabetes, obesity, and genes or family history.

Fourth, if the liver does so much for your well-being, why not take care of it? Caring for the liver means keeping to a healthy weight and diet, limiting alcohol intake, maintaining good hygiene by not sharing personal items with others, getting vaccinated against the hepatitis virus, observing caution while handling chemicals and toxins, not abusing medications and not self-prescribing, practicing fidelity or sexual abstinence, and talking to your doctor.

How to have a healthy liver?

  1. Attain and maintain a healthy weight. Being fat is associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which causes fatty liver. It can even lead to hepatitis and cirrhosis.
  2. Opt for a healthy, well-balanced, plant-focused diet. Avoid fat-rich food. Avoid improperly cooked, rotten, expired, or unclean food. Do not overeat (even healthy food).
  3. Limit drinking alcohol or never drink at all. Some studies show that limited drinking is fine and can even be healthy. Weigh the risks and benefits.
  4. Don’t share needles, razors, toothbrushes, and even towels, deodorants, and the like.
  5. Have yourself vaccinated against viral hepatitis. You can’t be sure when you are exposed to infected body fluids. Talk to your doctor about getting the hepatitis A and B vaccines.
  6. Observe utmost precaution when handling chemicals (like aerosol paint, pesticide, insecticide, and fungicide sprays). Wear a good mask; cover yourself with gloves, hat, and wear a long-sleeved shirt. Keep the place well-aerated. Read the product labels.
  7. Use medications as advised by your doctor. Never abuse or misuse them. Don’t mix them with alcohol. Don’t mix medicines and/or herbals without informing your doctor first.
  8. Avoid contracting hepatitis B (as well as AIDS and STDs) by refraining from engaging in risky behavior and instead maintaining a sexually healthy lifestyle. One way is by practicing fidelity or sexual abstinence.
  9. Identify, assess, and reduce your risks. Check for a history of liver problems in the family. A liver problem can be silent. Better yet, have all your loved ones vaccinated. Household items can be exposed to contaminated body fluids. If you are not sure whether you or your loved ones have silent hepatitis infection or vaccination against it, then talk to your doctor.
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