Steps for a Healthy Liver
When I was diagnosed with hepatitis C, one of the concerns I had was: How can I help my liver?
Your liver needs your help.
Taking these 10 steps can help your liver as you fight hepatitis C and liver disease.
Keeping your liver healthy
Steps for a Healthy Liver:
- Do not assume you do not have hepatitis C if you do not have risk factors or have symptoms.
- Get tested for hepatitis C.
- Seek treatment if you test positive.
- Get vaccinated for hepatitis A and B (there is NO vaccine for hepatitis C). Co-infections are possible while fighting hepatitis C. Reduce your risk. The hep A and B vaccines can help your liver avoid serious liver injury and complications from these viruses.
- Learn Your Liver Condition with blood work. Liver enzymes ALT, AST, and GGT can serve as a gauge on how your liver is doing. Elevated liver enzymes can indicate liver inflammation. Liver enzymes fluctuate, so talk to your doctor about your liver condition.
- Avoid alcohol use.
- Limit acetaminophen (Tylenol) and other over-the-counter meds and supplements that can harm the liver.
- Eat a healthy and nutritious diet that is free of processed foods. A diet of fresh, or frozen vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds, healthy fats, and lean proteins is better for the liver. A good rule of thumb is fresh is best!
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Exercise. Mild exercise like walking, riding a bike, and stretching bring healthy liver benefits while boosting your immune system, strengthening your body, and helping you lose weight.
What harms your liver?
I learned taking steps to avoid what harms the liver is just as important as what helps your liver. Remember, everything you eat, drink, and are exposed to goes through your liver.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol for a hepatitis C and liver disease patient is like throwing gasoline on a fire. Alcohol is hard for the liver to process and get rid of toxins, which can lead to an increase in inflammation.
- Avoid exposure to toxins, chemicals, and pollutants. Smoking and second-hand smoke exposure can also be harmful to the liver.
- Avoid all recreational drugs.
- Dietary supplements and herbs can be harmful. Talk to your doctor before taking anything.
- Avoid processed foods. These contain high sodium, chemicals, and additives that can harm the liver.
If you test positive for hepatitis C, seek the care of a hepatologist, gastroenterologist, or infectious disease specialist. These doctors specialize in the disease and conditions of the liver and are up to date on tests and treatments.
Help your liver help you.
What are you doing to help your liver?
Do you experience long-term side effects from hep C treatment?