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How to Keep your Liver Healthy



Did you know that your liver performs over 500 different functions to help keep you healthy? Read on to learn about the most common type of liver disease in Canada and get tips to keep promote your liver health.

What are the functions of the liver? 

A healthy liver is essential for life. Your liver:

  • Removes toxic substances from your body like alcohol, drugs and chemicals
  • Makes bile, which helps you digest fat
  • Makes proteins that help fight off infections
  • Stores and supplies your body with energy from carbohydrate, protein and fat
  • Stores important vitamins like Vitamins A, D, E and K and Vitamin B12
  • Helps to balance your hormones
  • Helps to balance your blood cholesterol and more

What is the most common type of liver disease? 

The most common type of liver disease in Canada is called Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). NAFLD may occur when a person consumes more fat than the body can handle. This fat builds up in the liver (that is why it is called “fatty liver” disease). NAFLD does not occur because of drinking too much alcohol (that is why it is called “non-alcoholic”). Other types of liver disease may occur because of drinking too much alcohol. There are over one hundred other types of liver disease including cirrhosis, gallstones and liver cancer.

What are the risk factors for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease? 

You may be at higher risk for NAFLD if you:

Having NAFLD can put you at risk for liver damage. If NAFLD is very severe, it could lead to liver failure. Good nutrition and a healthy weight are important to keep your liver healthy and may help prevent NAFLD.  

Tips on keeping your liver healthy 

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Try these weight control strategies.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan. Add more vegetables and fruit to your diet. Choose whole grains and lower fat dairy products more often. Select leaner cuts of meat and include beans, lentils and tofu in your diet more often.
  • Make lower fat choices when cooking at home or eating out.
  • Be physically active: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day, like taking a brisk walk or riding a bike. Limit inactivity like watching television or playing video games.  Take quick, short breaks throughout the day. Read about different tips you can try for getting active.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol may cause other types of liver disease.
  • If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high triglycerides, talk to your health care provider to help you manage these conditions.

If you have NAFLD, call EatRight Ontario at 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email to get a detailed handout to help you manage this condition.

Bottom line 

You can help lower your risk of liver disease by maintaining a healthy body weight, eating well and being active.  If you need help getting started or having questions about conditions like diabetes and high cholesterol, call an EatRight Ontario Registered Dietitian for support at 1-877-510-510-2.

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Last Update – November 2, 2017

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If you have questions about what you've read here, or other questions about food, nutrition or healthy eating, click to email our Registered Dietitians or call 1-877-510-5102.