The liver is the largest organ in the body. It is responsible for helping the body digest food, store energy and eliminate toxins.
Its functions can be seriously affected by poor lifestyle habits, such as poor nutrition. Here we review which are the most harmful foods for the liver and what you can do to strengthen it.
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To function properly our body needs glucose, a sugar that comes from the food we eat, although it is also formed and stored within the body.
Glucose is the main source of energy for cells, and it is transported to all of them through the bloodstream. The liver is responsible for storing it and helps keep blood sugar levels balanced.
When we consume excess sugar, whether added or hidden in ultra-processed products, it can accumulate and end up being converted into fat around the liver.
This situation increases the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, whose main characteristic is excess fat stored in liver cells.
An alcoholic beverage is considered to be any beverage that contains ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol.
This can be natural or acquired, the important thing is that it is equal to or greater than 1% of the volume of the drink.
When we drink alcohol, it immediately passes into the blood, where it is transported to the liver, which releases enzymes responsible for metabolizing and eliminating it.
This metabolization process can cause an increase in cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, an increase in uric acid, and a decrease in glucose levels.
Toxins can also be released, which increases the risk of liver damage such as cirrhosis, steatosis, liver fibrosis, or alcoholic hepatitis.
In no case is alcohol beneficial to health, but if you drink it, the recommended consumption is up to 2 drinks per day for men and 1 for women.
One drink is roughly equivalent to a glass of beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of distilled spirits.
The difference between the sexes is that men generally have more water in their bodies, therefore, if they drank the same amount, the blood alcohol concentration for women would tend to be higher.
Red meat is a good source of protein, which is essential for building or repairing bones, muscles, and other body tissues.
However, professionals advise getting your protein from legumes, nuts, green leafy vegetables, or seeds, and limiting your intake of red meat.
The reason? Breaking down red meat correctly is hard work for the liver, so if consumption is excessive and constant, it can eventually lead to the appearance of various problems in the body.
This is because if meat is not broken down properly it can build up in the colon and release toxins.
In addition, by concentrating on processing red meat, the liver cannot function properly to fulfill other tasks, such as allocating energy to cells.
Red meat, especially processed meat, can also provide high levels of fat, which favor the accumulation of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood.
Saturated fats are typically found in animal products, such as pork, chicken, beef, whole milk, cheese, ice cream, or butter.
When consumed in excess, they increase blood cholesterol levels, impairing liver function and increasing the risk of diseases such as the fatty liver.
This does not mean that you should eliminate fats from your diet since they are necessary substances for the body to function properly. You just have to know how to choose them.
- Foods to deflate the pancreas and liver
Opt for unsaturated fats, present in avocado, nuts, seeds, or oils, such as olive, canola, almonds, or peanuts.
Sugary drinks, candies, canned, dehydrated, or packaged sauces or soups, cookies, ice cream, chips, and other types of snacks are examples of highly processed or ultra-processed food or edible products.
These are characterized by being made with industrial ingredients, that is, binders, preservatives, emulsifiers, stabilizers, or solvents. They typically contain little or no whole food.
They are difficult for the liver to digest, thus affecting its function and promoting the appearance of various diseases, such as skin disorders, obesity, kidney damage, and cardiovascular problems.
Although salt(sodium chloride) is necessary to fulfill certain vital functions, such as controlling the amount of water in the body and regulating blood pH, when consumed in excess it becomes a harmful substance.
This is because it can cause fluid retention, increase blood pressure and affect liver function.
The latter is because excessive sodium levels are linked to an increased risk of liver cell deformation and death.
How to strengthen the liver
Just as there are foods that can affect the function of the liver, there are others that can stimulate its purifying function and facilitate digestion, such as oatmeal, blueberries, citrus fruits, asparagus, raspberries, nuts, fish or grapes, among others.
Exercise is also important since it helps to lose weight, and with it, the liver and its enzymes can work better. You don’t need to start with great effort, a simple walk is a good start.
Water is another crucial aspect since when there is not enough liquid in the body, activities such as metabolism and the breakdown of fats for cellular use are complicated. Drink between 2 and 2 ½ liters of water a day to promote proper liver function.
Finally, do not forget to carry out medical check-ups. Liver diseases do not usually cause easily identifiable symptoms in the early stages, so this is the best way to anticipate their appearance or development.
Sources consulted: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.