This article is Medically Approved ✓ by Dr. Edward Salko
Your daily routine may have some activities that place your liver at risk for injuries.
Some habits that destroy your liver are pretty obvious, while others are downright subtle regarding their detrimental effects. Therefore, without even realizing it, you might be destroying your liver one tissue portion at a time.
Nevertheless, understanding how certain behaviors and everyday agendas ruin your liver’s health is a critical first step for prevention. Here are ten common habits that increase your risks for liver damage.
1. Excessive Alcohol Drinking
Consumption of too much alcohol has a direct link to liver damage. In addition, drinking alcohol beyond mealtimes can increase your risks for complicated liver disease.
When it comes to alcoholic beverages, the liver can tolerate moderate consumption.
But when the amount of alcohol that enters your digestive system becomes excessive, the liver becomes at risk of accumulating more fats. Hence, the term fatty liver is often mentioned when the subject of alcoholic liver disease is raised.
Fats or lipids in the form of triglycerides are produced when alcohol is metabolized. As a result, a fatty liver is one of the characteristics of alcoholic liver disease, and it can aggravate into more complicated conditions.
According to the National Institute of Alcoholic Abuse and Alcoholism, alcoholic liver disease accounts for a significant fraction of morbidity among heavy drinkers.
A heavy drinker can have a progressive alcoholic liver disease that begins with a fatty liver of steatosis. Without the proper intervention, the condition can turn into alcoholic hepatitis, potentially leading to liver failure.
Nonetheless, the most irreversible stage of this condition is called alcoholic cirrhosis. It is characterized by tissues scarring that indicates permanent damage to your liver.
2. Frequent Dining Out
Eating out regularly can harm your liver’s health. Aside from liver disease caused by overconsumption of alcohol, other factors can also cause detrimental effects in your liver. This condition is collectively known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NFLD).
There were about 882.1 million cases of NFLD worldwide in 2017 – a sweeping increase from the 391.2 million cases recorded in 1990. According to a study by Japanese researchers, dietary habits, nutritional problems, and overall lifestyle cause NFLD especially among Western countries.
When it comes to dietary patterns, eating out is considered a factor in the drastic increase in food volumes over the years. Buffets with all-you-can-eat style, monster food challenges, and other trends that revolve around large portions of food increased the risk of Americans for liver disease.
As food sizes and servings increase, the caloric intake also goes up. Excessive caloric intake leads to obesity which is directly linked to liver disease.
3. Irregular Eating Schedules
The strong association between fatty liver disease and obesity means that irregular eating patterns can destroy your liver if interventions are not taken.
Eating too late at night, skipping breakfast, and eating too fast are some of the dietary habits that can lead to obesity; and, by extension, liver damage.
Nighttime eating, which typically occurs right before bedtime, can have adverse effects on your health. One example is Night Eating Syndrome (NES), characterized by excessive caloric intake when eating after dinnertime.
A study published in PubMed about NES among shift workers revealed that the condition could lead to diabetes and obesity.
On the other hand, missing breakfast also results in more cravings and larger food intake during different times of the day. Likewise, eating rapidly lessens the feeling of satisfaction which induces more food cravings.
4. Eating Fast Foods Regularly
The CDC reports that 36.6% of American adults eat fast foods on a given day. Fast foods are almost engraved in the Western diet. It is convenient, fast, and satisfying at times. However, it is common knowledge that consumption of these foods has adverse health effects.
Fast foods are infused with high sugars, salts, and fats. Brent Tetri, M.D., a professor of internal medicine at St. Louis University Liver Center, stressed that there is “strong evidence” that fast foods can cause severe liver damage.
Tetri added that what makes fast foods like burgers, fries, and pizzas dangerous for your liver is their high caloric content.
A small meal can easily contain 2000 calories which should be the total caloric intake for the entire day.
5. Staying Indoors Often
Getting fresh air and enough sunlight has plenty of benefits. For one, it protects your liver from severe damage. Sufficient sunlight exposure triggers the production of vitamin D.
Studies found that Vitamin D deficiency contributes to hepatic disease. However, research is still going to firmly establish whether the link between vitamin d and liver disease is either causation or correlation.
Although there has been evidence on how low vitamin D levels lead to NAFLD, more data is required to create a strong case.
Nonetheless, in the case of non-cholesteric liver disease, vitamin D deficiency contributes to the low production of bile.
If you cannot go outside for your daily dose of sunlight, it is best to consult your doctor about alternative ways of stimulating vitamin D production. Some of the common options include taking dietary supplements and eating vitamin-d rich foods.
6. Taking Herbal and Dietary Supplements (HDS)
While herbal and dietary supplements (HDS) can sometimes cross the border from “highly recommended” to “absolutely needed,” understanding how these substances affect your liver is still imperative.
The use of dietary supplements from herbal and synthetic sources is prevalent in the US. Doctors may recommend these substances once specific deficiencies are detected. However, when deciding to ingest herbal and dietary supplements (HDS), you must consider how liver-friendly these substances are.
HDS-induced liver injury refers to chemical damages or toxicity in the liver (hepatotoxicity) as a result of consuming HDS. Cases of hepatotoxicity and injury caused by HDS increased over the years. This trend can be associated with more people relying on HDS.
For example, individuals consuming body-building HDS reported experiencing itching and prolonged jaundice associated with liver disease.
7. Engaging in Unprotected Sex
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that could result in complications such as higher risks for liver failure, liver damage, and death. It is the primary cause of liver cancer, the second leading cancer-related death around the globe.
In a report by the Hepatitis B Foundation, nearly 2.4 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B in the US. The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted via sexual intercourse, needle sharing, birth, and direct exposure to the blood.
One way to prevent hepatitis B infection is to ensure safe sex.
Wearing a condom has been proven to reduce the risk of hepatitis B virus. It also lowers the risks of transferring HBV. Likewise, you should avoid using someone else’s personal items like toothbrushes, towels, and toiletry articles.
8. Intravenous Drug Abuse
Intravenous drug use comes with several risks. For example, hepatitis C, a hepatic viral condition spread via contaminated blood transfusion or exposure, increases its risk when needles are shared using intravenous drugs.
Furthermore, chronic hepatitis C can lead to the progression of liver fibrosis. Although needle sharing in intravenous drug abuse is rare, there is a slight chance that the infection is acquired this way.
Nonetheless, the most apparent way to which your liver can be damaged by injecting drugs, either legal or illegal, is due to dose-dependent toxicity.
Overdose of drugs such as acetaminophen leads to the accumulation of molecules that cause injuries to the liver.
9. Smoking Cigarettes
Heavy drinkers are obvious recipients of a liver damage experience. The same applies to heavy smokers. Most of the time, you may think that excessive cigarette lighting can only critically damage the lungs. However, a study showed that smoking could severely injure the liver.
A heavy smoker produces toxins that cause necroinflammation, a response to cell death that gravely increases hepatic damages.
Smoking is regarded as a critical factor in producing the worst result for NAFLD patients. The progression of smokers when it comes to liver damage moves faster compared to a non-smoker.
Cigarette smoking can also cause oxidative stress and aggravates NAFLD.
10. Drinking Less Water
Whether it’s the liver, the kidney, or the lung, any organ is at stake when dehydration kicks in. Drinking an insufficient amount of water can cause negative health effects even in the long term.
Water plays a critical role in supplying macromolecules in different cells and removing wastes. The process often referred to as intracellular hydration is vital for the metabolism of nitrogen and protein regulation. Excessive nitrogen is eliminated from the body system via hepatic removal.
On the other hand, urea nitrogen is produced by the liver. Therefore, a blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test is part of the standard tests that detect liver and kidney damage.
In a Nutshell
Your liver plays a critical role that could draw the line between life or death. So if you are making these ten habits regularly, it’s about time to shift to healthy alternatives.
Forget about alcoholic drinks, unhealthy eating habits, smoking, unsupervised drug use, and unprotected sex.
Think about your liver. Embody healthy habits and make sure to evaluate your liver’s health.
Are you looking for ways to check on your liver? Take the Liver Function Test – 7 Panel (LFT) Blood Test. Learn more about your risks for liver damage and fight for your health.