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A lively liver

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Keeping your liver healthy has a lot to do with your nutritional choices. Rhea Dhanbhoora tells you how you can have a happy liver with a few tweaks to your diet...

Have you ever wondered why your liver is so important? It performs many of your body’s vital functions and liver damage can affect your entire system. Signs of your liver suffering include fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and jaundice, amongst other, slightly scarier things such as weakened blood vessels.
What’s in a diet?
Your liver is one of the largest and definitely one of the most important organs in your body. Although all your organs have innumerable functions as well as hold importance, they’re not going to be able to perform their functions without the help of your liver. Nutritionist Dr. Purva Duggal, from Fortis Hospital, explains, “Your liver makes antibodies that fight diseases, detoxifies your body by removing toxins and produces B12, which is important for the production of blood. It also produces bile, which is essential for digestion. So, if your liver doesn’t function properly, all your organs will eventually suffer.”
So, how does a diet change things? There are certain foods which can add to blockages and stop your liver from functioning as well as certain foods that can keep your liver hale and hearty. Just like any other organ, you need to have a balanced diet to keep your liver safe.
you should Avoid...
To keep your liver healthy, it’s best to avoid a number of foods that can add to your liver load or add toxins to your blood. Purva gives us a list of foods to avoid in order to keep your liver functioning fine:
  • Avoid fatty foods such as fatty meats, bacon, soft cheese and palm oil.
  • Avoid processed foods.
  • Food additives and preservatives are best avoided since they overwork your liver.
  • Alcohol is your biggest enemy.
  • Carbonated drinks may also negatively affect your liver’s functioning.
Indulge in...
That may seem like a long list but don’t worry, there are certain foods that can help you keep your liver healthy too. Purva tells us, “Liver friendly foods include oatmeal, lean chicken, fish, egg whites, fruits and vegetables, rationed quantities of yogurt, buttermilk and cottage cheese.”
Your meal plan
“While your meal plan needs to be customised based on individual needs, the most suitable choice for all meals is to include complex carbs, adequate proteins and minimal essential fats in order to help you absorb fat soluble vitamins.”
— Dr. Purva Duggal, Nutritionist, Fortis Hospital

Purva gives us a sample menu to help us plan a nutritious, liver-friendly meal:

Oatmeal with skimmed milk; egg white omelet (with ¼ tsp butter); fruit (1)
Phulkas (2); rice (1 small bowl), vegetables; dal (1 small bowl) or lean chicken; salad and a glass of buttermilk
Vegetable soup (1 bowl); grilled fish; salad; baked potato or phulkas (2); vegetables; salad; dal (1 small bowl) 
“Modify the quantity of what you eat depending on your calorie needs,” Purva advises.
TIPS to a better liver
Diets are important but not everything. Purva gives you a few other tips on keeping your liver healthy:
  • Lower your fat intake. 
  • Don’t eat too late in the night or too early in the morning. Let your digestive system rest whenever you can.  
  • Flush out your liver regularly by increasing your intake of lemon-water. 
  • Massage the area around your liver at least once a day to help remove any congestion.
  • Exercise regularly. It aids bowel movements and can help you de-stress.

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