There is a lot we can do to protect our liver through lifestyle and diet, especially as two of the main risk factors for chronic liver disease are alcohol misuse and obesity.
My three top tips to love your liver are:
1. Limit high fat, high sugar processed foods
Fat is the most energy dense source of calories, there are 9 calories in 1 gram of fat (whereas protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram). There are good sources of fat such as oily fish, nuts and avocado, but the less desirable saturated fats are often found in processed food. Some processed foods such as pastries, cakes, biscuits seem obvious to cut down on but we often eat too much of less obvious processed foods such as meat products like sausages, salami and ham, or bread and soft drinks.
2. Snack Smart
A perfect replacement to processed ‘convenience’ snacks is a handful of nuts. Nuts are nutrient dense, containing omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and are a healthy source of the antioxidant Vitamin E.
A portion size for nuts is 30-35g, that’s 11 walnut halves, 32 almonds, 10 brazils or 35 pistachios, just to name a few. Being packed with good fats, protein and fibre they will be filling and curb your cravings for other unhealthy snacks.
3. Drink Right
Men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, a typical pint of beer or large glass of wine (250ml) is around 3 units. Don’t binge and use all your units at once, spread out your drinks over 3 or 4 days. It’s important to give your liver a break, the best way is to have at least 2 consecutive days without any alcohol. Remember this is an upper limit per week, not a target to achieve!
Don’t get thirsty! Keep hydrated by aiming to drink 6-8 cups/glasses of fluid per day (non-alcoholic of course!).
Written by Lilia Malcolm