What you should eat to keep your liver in top shape

Ever heard of hepatitis viral? This is a condition caused by a virus that attacks the liver, interfering with its functioning.
A diet rich in fruits and leafy vegetables helps in cleaning the liver. / Lydia Atieno.
A diet rich in fruits and leafy vegetables helps in cleaning the liver. / Lydia Atieno.

Ever heard of hepatitis viral? This is a condition caused by a virus that attacks the liver, interfering with its functioning. According to nutritionists, in order to keep the virus at bay and for a well-functioning liver, one should take on a healthy diet and keep normal body weight.

The liver is responsible for chemical and metabolic functions. For instance, blood from the intestines which is distributed throughout the body must pass through the liver, which implies that food intake can affect its functioning positively or negatively. 

According to Francis Kazungu, a general practitioner in Kigali, in order to keep your liver in a good condition, a good lifestyle is all one needs.

“Consuming foods that are helpful to the liver is vital. For instance, garlic is important because it activates the enzymes which help in flushing out toxins from the body, thus ensuring good functioning of the liver,” he says.

He adds that garlic is also important because it contains allicin and selenium, compounds that help in liver cleansing.

Kazungu advises that in case one has liver diseases, they should keep away from chemical-based medication and food contaminants such as chemical additives, as they pose additional strain on the liver since it must eliminate them.

He explains that this is because while maintaining its metabolic activities, there are some foods that will give it a hard time, such as foods with high fat content since there is a limit to the amount of fat the liver can process. 

However, Kazungu cautions that, if one has some conditions like high blood pressure, they should first consult dieticians on what is right for them to consume because such individuals face a high risk of developing liver diseases if a wrong diet is taken.

Rene Tabaro, a nutritionist at King Faisal Hospital, says the liver is involved in the body’s detoxifying process; therefore eating the right food will help it perform its function well.

“One should consume a diet of leafy vegetables, fruits, honey, whole grains and olive oil. Fruits are ideal because they contain vitamin C and antioxidants which help in the cleansing of the liver. Beetroot and carrots are also good for the functioning of the liver and should be included on one’s diet,” he says.

Tabaro explains that carrots and beetroot are rich in beta carotene which helps in stimulating and improving the functioning of the liver.

According to a recent research by Mayo Clinic, consuming detox diets helps one to become more energetic and focused.

The research adds that a diet including raw vegetables, fruits and fruit juices as well as water tends to eliminate highly processed foods that have solid fats and added sugars from the body, thus ensuring a well functioning liver.

On the other hand, Tabaro says keeping off from a lot of animal proteins, processed food, too much salt, spiced and fried foods as well as saturated fats is essential.

Kazungu points out that the amount of refined sugar one takes in should be reduced, explaining that the liver converts it into fat and cholesterol, which cause fatty degeneration of organs, or can be transported to areas with high deposit fats to be stored. And such areas include, the buttocks, stomach and thighs.These, he adds, may lead to cardiovascular diseases.

With a wrong diet, one is likely to suffer from liver-related diseases like hepatitis. This is the inflammation of the liver caused by virus or toxins, and excessive intake of alcoholic beverages.

Kazungu further says that exercising is also one way of ensuring the liver functions well.

“Exercising prevents one from contracting diseases such as fatty liver diseases, which could lead to cirrhosis. However, one should always seek medical attention from professionals whenever they are sick as some medicines may have side effects that can become harmful to the liver,” he says.

Isaac Bikorimana, a nutritionist at Kibagabaga Hospital in Kigali, advises that one should dwell on a light diet that is healthy and nutritious. Such a diet includes maintaining a healthy calorie intake, drinking enough fluids, whole grain, cereals and grains.

He adds that one should be watchful about the water they drink because dirty water may contain some viruses that cause hepatitis A, which is very harmful to the liver.

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