Liver Awareness Month Brought to you by Senior Extra at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center

MOORESVILLE, NC — Protect your liver

Did you know that your liver is responsible for protecting you from toxins and harmful substances? Each day, your liver performs hundreds of functions to keep your body healthy. That’s why liver disease, among the top 10 causes of death in the U.S., is such a serious health risk.

Thankfully, many forms of liver disease are preventable and effectively treated when they are detected early. October is National Liver Awareness Month and Lake Norman Regional Medical Center’s Senior Extra program would like to share some tips for keeping your liver healthy.

Habits that support a healthy liver

An important function of the liver is to filter blood coming from the digestive tract before it circulates to the rest of the body. The liver processes most of the nutrients you eat into forms that can be used by your body, produces cholesterol and important proteins, regulates blood composition, and removes toxins from the blood, among other functions.

By practicing healthy habits, you can help support your liver and keep it in top working order. The health care team at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center recommends you:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can put you at risk for fatty liver disease and liver cancer. Exercise regularly and eat a variety of foods from all the food groups, and choose fiber-rich, unprocessed foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid high-fat and fried foods, particularly those with trans fats, which can have a negative impact on your health.
  • Don’t smoke and limit your alcohol intake. The chemicals in cigarettes and smoke can affect the health of your liver, so avoid smoking and second-hand smoke. Alcohol can damage or destroy liver cells and lead to liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis (liver inflammation) and cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). Talk to your doctor about the amount of alcohol that’s safe for you to consume.
  • Avoid breathing in or touching toxins. Limit direct contact with toxins found in cleaning and aerosol products, paints, pesticides, and insecticides. Wear gloves, masks or other protective clothing to avoid breathing or touching harmful chemicals, and make sure areas are well-ventilated when using products indoors. Always follow manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Get tested for hepatitis C. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 75 percent of adults infected with hepatitis C are baby boomers, and many are unaware they’re living with the disease. Although hepatitis can affect anyone, those born from 1945-1965 have the highest rates of the disease. The CDC recommends anyone born during this time should be tested.
  • Use medications wisely. Taking medications in improper doses, for long periods of time, mixed with other substances, or unnecessarily can all harm your liver. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist often about prescriptions and over-the-counter medications — even vitamins and supplements — you’re taking.

A healthy liver has an amazing ability to regenerate when it is damaged, so it's important to practice lifestyle habits that support the health of your liver. Eating well, controlling your weight, avoiding everyday toxins, and talking to your doctor or pharmacist about medications can help support your overall health.

About Senior Extra

Ever-changing advancements in health care allow us to live longer and improve our overall health. Providing the latest information about health advancements through monthly seminars and events is just one facet of Senior Extra. To sign up for a free membership, visit www.SeniorExtra.com.

Remember that this information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor, but rather to increase awareness and help equip patients with information and facilitate conversations with your physician that will benefit your health.

Sources:

American Liver Foundationwww.liverfoundation.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – www.cdc.gov/knowmorehepatitis

About Lake Norman Regional Medical Center

Lake Norman Regional Medical Center offers comprehensive medical care to individuals throughout the greater Lake Norman region. Located just off I-77 at Exit 33, the Mooresville medical campus offers complete specialty services from 24-hour emergency medicine and maternity to oncology and advanced surgical services.