You might not give it much importance, but your liver is working hard around the clock to keep you up running and healthy. Various complications and severe issues can arise when you fail to take proper care. Some of the major functions of a liver are to digest the food consumed and filter toxins from the body. Your body is made of the things you eat. You should try to consume food items that are good for a healthy life and avoid the food that can hamper its functioning or make it work harder.
Coffee, fresh fruits and vegetables, oatmeal, green tea in moderation(1-2 cups/day), berries, eggs, nuts, and grapes nourish the liver and make it healthy. But do you know the foods bad for the liver? Keep reading to know more about such food items.
Baked Food Items
Everyone loves to eat cakes, muffins, and cookies. But do you know their adverse effects on your liver? Is sugar bad for your liver? Yes! Experts suggest that bakery products should be completely abandoned from your daily diet chart. First of all, these items are high in sugar and can lead to obesity. Secondly, bakery items can also lead to higher triglyceride levels in the body, due to their fat content, that can lead to various liver diseases. Also, the primary ingredient used in these products is refined white flour(maida). White flour is hard to digest and also gives rise to fat accumulation in the liver.
Aerated/fizzy drinks (soda/ cola etc)
It is okay to consume a small amount of aerated drink occasionally, but its regular consumption can start damaging your liver and could lead to the development of various liver complications. Apart from this, excess soda consumption is also a major cause of weight gain and obesity in people. And obesity can affect your liver by increasing fatty accumulation in the liver( Fatty liver). Also, soda offers a deadly combination of sugar and refined carbohydrates(also called empty calories) that are detrimental to liver health.
If you are into alcohol consumption and care for your liver, this is the first thing that you need to quit immediately. The limits for alcohol as per the Western countries is 14 units/ week for both men and women spread over the entire week. The Limits for Indians is not defined, but we know that Indian livers are more sensitive than western population to the effects of alcohol. Therefore cutting out alcohol completely is ideal. What happens when you consume excess alcohol? When your liver attempts to break it down, the chemical reaction in this process can damage its cells leading to inflammation, cell death and scarring(fibrosis). That’s not all, chronic alcohol consumption can block nutrient absorption, increasing toxic effects on the liver. Excess alcohol consumption for long periods leads to Liver cirrhosis which is irreversible scarring of the liver. People who develop cirrhosis can develop complications like vomiting blood, jaundice, excess fluid accumulation in the body and also Liver cancer.
One must always refrain from consuming food items like pasta pizza biscuits and bread that are made from white flour. They lack minerals, fibre, and essential vitamins. It is essential to understand that highly refined grains convert into sugar content. This content is hard to process and end up as fat in the liver. It is one of the major causes of fatty liver diseases. You should instead opt for healthy alternatives that will help your liver to stay healthy throughout the year.
Fatty/Fast Food Items
French fries, wafers, burgers, and pizzas do no good to your liver. These food items are high in saturated fat or trans-fat content and are difficult to digest. In other words, your liver needs to work hard to process these food items. The high saturated fats can give rise to inflammation over time and eventually converts into cirrhosis. Saturated fats can also raise bad cholesterol and decrease the good cholesterol level in the body and also increase the risk of heart disease, strokes in addition to fatty liver.
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Food Items Rich in Salt
Salt was never easy on your liver. You must take every possible measure to cut your salt intake to maintain the health of the liver. Excess salt intake can lead to water retention in the body. You must avoid the consumption of canned soups and processed food items that are rich in sodium content. Avoid packaged savoury snacks like chips, mixtures, salty biscuits etc as they are rich in saturated fat and salt. Processed cheese is bad for your liver as it comes under the category of processed foods and has high sodium content and saturated fats. Excess consumption can lead to fatty liver diseases, plus obesity.
Red meat may be high in protein, but digesting it is a taxing job for your liver. Breaking down proteins is not easy for the liver and can lead to various liver-related issues. Also, excess protein build-up in the liver can lead to fatty liver diseases that can have adverse effects on the brain and kidney. Egg whites are good for your liver, but over-consumption can lead to digestion issues and the yellow yolk is a source of bad cholesterol.
These are the foods that are bad for the kidneys and liver. Consuming everything in a limit is still fine, but the moment you cross this limit, you are risking the health of your liver. Consuming large amounts of fructose-rich fruits like raisins, dry fruits can result in inflammation and fatty liver. This is because the sugar present in fruits, known as fructose, can cause abnormal amounts of fat in the blood when consumed in large amounts. Bananas are not bad for the liver, but try to limit them to 1-2/ day and not beyond that as the fructose in them can lead to fatty liver diseases.
Dr. Rangarajan Kasturi, Consultant – Gastroenterology – Medical | Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center, Bommasandra & Narayana Medical Centre, Langford Town, Bangalore