If there’s one organ in your body which doesn’t get enough credit, it’s your liver.
At an impressive 1.5kg, it’s our largest internal organ. It’s in charge of filtering all the blood from the digestive system and converting nutrients into forms the body can use. It also stockpiles vitamins and minerals and converts fat cells back into energy.
Given it’s so important, you’d think we’d take better care of the old fella. But in fact it’s estimated 30 per cent of Australians have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Yikes!
So how can we ensure we don’t become another statistic? Thankfully the liver is a pretty resilient organ, you just need to know how to take care of it!
The liver detoxes your body.
On top of the blood-filtering and nutrient-converting, the liver is responsible for deciding what to do with waste – whether substances are safe enough to enter the bloodstream, or if they should be sent straight to the bowel. As you can imagine, this is a big job!
But food and alcohol abuse can damage it.
Livers are pretty tough – you can lose up to 75 per cent and it’ll still regenerate into a whole new one! But that doesn’t mean this organ is invincible. Prolonged abuse can leave your liver scarred and sick. The main culprits are alcohol, drugs, insulin resistance… and, you’ve guessed it, fructose.
“Like alcohol, fructose is almost exclusively processed by the liver. While small amounts of fructose from fruit and vegetables will be used for fuel, excess amounts will be stored as fat,” says Natalie Bourke, nutritionist and IQS expert.
Is it any wonder that just one can of soft drink a day could significantly increase your risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease? In fact, research estimates up to 80 per cent of obese people have the disease, another good reason to look to sugar as the core of modern health issues.
How to look after your liver.
The liver does a great job detoxing your body – which is why you should be wary of “purifying” lemon juice fasts and the like. That being said, eating a diet free from excess sugar and processed foods will certainly give your liver a break and help it do its detoxing thang!“Step one is reducing your toxin intake,” says Natalie. “This can be from food sources like sugar, alcohol, processed foods and artificial ingredients, as well as from environmental sources such as plastics, harmful chemicals and smoke.”
“Step two is making sure you are supplying your body with enough nutrients to fuel your liver to do its detoxifying job. Lots of veggies, healthy fats, proteins and antioxidant-rich fruit. In other words, just JERF!”