30 December 2016
And the first step you can take towards a healthier liver is to re-think your alcohol consumption, says Dr Andrew Holt, a Consultant Hepatologist at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull.
“Taking part in campaigns such as ‘Dry January’ are a great way to start but I always urge people to use that as a stepping stone towards a healthier attitude to alcohol throughout the year,” said Dr Holt.
“The liver really is a remarkable organ with a fantastic capacity for rejuvenation - but people still manage to ‘take it beyond the limit’ when it comes to alcohol intake!
“In some circumstances, particularly in individuals who may be overweight or diabetic, the threshold for serious damage from alcohol is surprisingly low (as low as two bottles of wine per week) and continued harmful drinking can lead to liver damage that is beyond repair.”
But because it is such a ‘forgiving’ organ people do tend to take it for granted, Dr Holt explained.
“Two or three days a week abstinence is an achievable target that can really benefit liver health, as can keeping a record of the number of drinks you have throughout the week,” he said.
Healthy diet is also another step you can take to keeping your liver in shape as more and more evidence points to a link between liver health, diet and the blend of bacteria living inside your bowel.
If anyone is concerned about the state of their liver there are lots of simple ways that you can check to see whether there is any evidence of damage. Including the Fibroscan tests as recommended by NICE and special blood work. It’s better to seek help rather than ignore changes that, in the early stages, are often completely reversible.
“Hopefully the Love Your Liver campaign will give people the springboard they need to make changes to their lifestyle but I hope they stick with at least some of those changes for much more than a month,” said Dr Holt.