The liver is an essential organ that regulates chemicals in the blood, produces bile, metabolizes food, stores glycogen, vitamins and minerals, and processes and excretes drugs. These are just a few of the main functions of the liver, and without a healthy liver, a number of these tasks could be compromised. Compared to other organs, the liver has a great ability to regenerate after injury. While it’s a happy fact, you don’t want to rely on the unique regenerative abilities of the liver rather than making sure you take care of it from the start.
Your eating and drinking habits can have a huge impact on your liver function, both positively and negatively. It is therefore important to make choices in the best interest of your liver and your body as a whole. To help you keep your body in top shape, here are the four worst eating habits for your liver.
You probably won’t be surprised that processed sugar added to foods and drinks can have negative health effects. Adding sugar can raise blood pressure, increase chronic inflammation and lead to weight gain, diabetes and fatty liver disease, all of which are linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, according to Harvard Health. You might be surprised to learn that the added sugar you eat can actually increase fat production in your liver, which can lead to fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes.
Not all sugars are created equal, and it’s important to differentiate the sugar naturally found in fruits and vegetables, which is not shown to harm liver health, from the added sugar used in many foods. and processed beverages. In reality, a study found that participants who drank fructose-sweetened beverages had twice the fat production of those who drank glucose-sweetened beverages. Another finding from the study concluded that sucrose, the most common form of sugar consumed by humans, increased fat synthesis slightly more than the same amount of fructose.
Eat this! Point: To reduce the load on your liver and other organs and tissues in your body, try limiting your sugar intake to 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men, according to the American Heart Association.
It is a broad food and beverage category and includes many packaged, shelf stable, frozen and refrigerated items. Many of these drinks and foods contain added sugar, which we know can negatively impact your liver health. Processed meats like hot dogs, pepperoni, deli meats, and other common foods like breads, pastries, cereals, and desserts also contain ingredients that can be harmful.
A recent study found higher consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and to research notes that a high intake of sodium, a nutrient commonly found in processed foods, is also associated with an increased risk of NAFLD and advanced liver fibrosis.
Eat this! Point: While a healthy diet may include a small number of processed foods, it’s best to look for those without added sugar, nitrates, and nitrites, and to choose low-sodium, less-processed varieties. For example, whole grain bread contains more essential nutrients, such as fiber, intact than white bread. Focus the majority of your dietary intake on whole foods and use herbs, vinegar, sauces and seasonings that are low in sodium and added sugar for added flavor.
Fries, fries and pastries, oh my! Although many of your favorite foods fall into this category, the fat content of these foods can force your liver to work overtime. Fried foods are often made with low-quality fat sources like corn oil, which is heavily processed and contains high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, which are believed to increase inflammation in the body when consumed in excess and out of balance with omega-3 intake.
Fried foods are also often high in sodium, another risk factor for liver dysfunction, and are often eaten with sauces, toppings, and dips that contain added sugar.
Eat this! Point: It’s best to limit your intake of fried foods, and if you plan to fry at home, consider using a higher quality oil. Peanut and avocado oils are best for frying because they have a higher smoke point than other common oils like olive and contain higher quality fats than other frying oils. When cooking at low heat, olive oil is a great option high in healthy fats.
The products contain so many valuable nutrients that are often not found as concentrated in other food sources, such as antioxidants and fiber. Additionally, some fruits and vegetables may actually contain compounds that protect the liver and may even enhance its detoxification function. For example, cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts have been shown increase the functioning of detoxifying enzymes in the liver. Additionally, the antioxidants found in berries, grapes, grapefruit, and prickly pears demonstrate liver protective abilities.
Eat this! Point: According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should eat at least 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit per day and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day. Although specific recommendations may vary slightly by age and gender, this is a great goal for most adults. A breakfast smoothie filled with berries and kale, shaved Brussels sprouts in a salad for lunch, a grapefruit snack and steamed broccoli for dinner is an example of a simple diet that provides nutrients that will have a positive impact on your liver.