The Mediterranean diet protects the liver!
The liver has very important duties like storing vitamins, sugar and iron, and metabolizing harmful substances like ammonia in blood, drugs and other poisonous substances. This is why it is critical to treat our liver right. Otherwise the liver can get infected resulting in a condition called “hepatitis”. If the infection becomes chronic, permanent damage or cirrhosis can develop. Even worse, the risk of cancer developing in damaged liver tissue can be higher. In fact some small changes we can make in our lifestyle and regular monitoring can make it very simple to protect our liver! Acibadem International Hospital Gastroenterology Specialist Assistant Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nurten Türkel Küçükmetin listed the precautions we need to take for a healthy liver as follows:
- Follow the Mediterranean diet: The Mediterranean diet prevents fattening of the liver. Therefore you should be careful to eat a Mediterranean diet and stay away from animal based fats, processed meat products, offal, excessive carbohydrates and sugar. It is very important for liver health that you consume fresh fruits and vegetables on daily basis and stay away from trans fats. It is beneficial for you to consume artichokes more frequently when they are in season, and all yellow and green vegetables as they help remove toxic substances from the liver. Omega 3 and antioxidants reduce the fattening of the liver. Antioxidants provide protection from harmful toxins, they accelerate the process of removing toxins from the body and help the liver carry out its normal functions. The most natural sources of antioxidants are fruits and vegetables.
- Limit your alcohol consumption: Alcohol is one of the most harmful substances for the liver. More than 80 grams per day in men and 20 grams per day in women and over 10 years of alcohol consumption increase the risk of cirrhosis. Therefore it is important that you reduce or quit alcohol consumption all together.
- Protect yourself from these infections: Hepatitis B and C viruses are the most common causes of hepatitis and cirrhosis in our country. While these viruses are contracted most commonly by blood, they can also be contracted by sexual contact and from mother to baby. Hepatitis B has a vaccination but there is no vaccination for Hepatitis C yet. In order to prevent spreading of these diseases, blood and blood products need to be monitored carefully, personal items like tooth brushes and razors should not be shared, sterilizing should be applied meticulously in manicure, pedicure, tattoo and piercing, and people who are at high risk are recommended to be vaccinated.
- Get rid of your excess weight: Alcohol is not the only cause of a fatty liver. Whether is develops on its own or due to an infection, the most common cause of a fatty liver is obesity! A fatty liver is seen in one out of every 4-5 patients who get an ultrasound for any reason. Losing 10 percent of your weight has been observed to reduce the risk of a fatty liver. To protect yourself from this condition, it is very important to quit consuming alcohol and smoking, lose weight, exercise and keep your blood sugar under control.
- Do not use random medicine: Avoid using medicine that has not been recommended by a doctor, as well as plant based treatment products. It is very important that some medications like pain relievers, fever reducers, cortisone derivative drugs and some antibiotics are taken in the dose and period that the doctor recommends. Excessive amounts of these medicines or using them unnecessarily or for long periods may deteriorate the liver or cause liver failure.
- Make sure to get regular exercise
According to studies, when a proper diet and exercise are practiced together, this is more effective for reducing fattening of the liver. However, losing weight quickly can also cause fattening of the liver. The ideal approach is to lose 500-900 grams per week. This is why you should exercise in a well-balanced manner over a longer period of time. For example you can do medium impact aerobic exercises 5-6 days a week, for 30-45 minutes each.
- Drink 1-2 cups of coffee a day
A fatty liver develops when droplets of fat accumulate inside the liver cells. Over time structural and functional deterioration occurs in the liver in connection with the amount of fat that accumulates. The infection that develops in the liver in connection with fat accumulation is called “steatosis hepatitis”. If steatosis hepatitis lasts for many years, it can cause cirrhosis. Especially in recent studies, while the mechanism is not yet completely known, it has been stated that 1-2 cups of coffee per day can reduce the risk of fat accumulation and cancer in the liver.