Preventing Liver Disease

One in four Australians have liver disease and this number is rising. While you may not experience any symptoms, untreated liver disease can lead to permanent liver damage such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.

The good news is simple lifestyle behaviours can reduce the risk of serious liver disease.

Liver disease is becoming more common throughout Western societies, with what we eat and drink a leading risk factor. If you eat too much food or drink too much alcohol your body deals with this excess by turning some of the calories into fat that is stored in the liver.

Many liver specialists and nutrition experts recommend the Mediterranean Pattern of Eating (or Mediterranean Diet) to keep our bodies healthy and functioning at their best.

The Mediterranean Pattern of Eating consists of healthy whole foods with very few processed foods.

Key foods include:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Wholegrain bread and cereals
  • Legumes and beans

Tips to embrace the Mediterranean Pattern of Eating into your diet:

  • Replace oils, margarines and butter with extra virgin olive oil
  • Replace meat with more vegetables
  • Add legumes into mince dishes
  • Switch red meats for fish or poultry
  • Add nuts to salads.

Your liver can only do so much at a time.

It’s best to avoid alcohol altogether however reducing your alcohol can have a positive effect on your liver’s health.

Australian Guidelines recommend healthy adults should drink no more than 10 standard drinks in a week, and no more than 4 standard drinks in a day.

It’s important to note how much you can ‘safely drink’ varies from person to person. If you have a liver condition it is best not to drink alcohol at all. Drinking alcohol when you have an existing liver condition can increase the damage to your liver.

Exercising regularly can boost your liver health and help you to manage your weight. Being overweight or obese is a major cause of fatty liver disease.

How to find time for exercise

  • Schedule workouts into your day, just like you would an appointment.
  • Find free video workouts online that you can follow at home.
  • Get active while watching TV – squats, lunges and crunches are great for your health

Useful links

Hepatitis B and C are leading causes of liver disease and liver cancer.

Hepatitis B is transmitted by:

  • Blood-to-blood contact
  • Sexual fluids
  • At birth (if the mother already has hepatitis B)

Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact. High-risk activities for transmission include:

  • Sharing injecting equipment
  • Getting a tattoo or body piercing with unsterile equipment
  • Blood transfusions in Australia before 1990
  • Sharing toothbrushes, razors or hair clippers
  • Medical or dental procedures in developing countries

Getting tested for hepatitis
Many are unaware they are living with hepatitis B or C, a test is the only way to know if you have it. It is important to note that testing for these viruses is not included as part of regular blood tests and check-ups. Testing is simple and may not even require a blood test.

How to get a test:

  • Talk to your doctor
  • Visit an Aboriginal Medical Service

Hepatitis B vaccination
Your best protection from hepatitis B is vaccination. The hepatitis B vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine that has been around since 1982. Most children born from May 2000 will be vaccinated for hepatitis B as part of their regular childhood immunisation schedule as long as they received all required doses.

Filters the good stuff that your body can use, and gets rid of the things that are no use or are harmful (alcohol, toxins etc)

Makes and stores vitamins and minerals

Assists in hormone production which helps to regulate our mental health

Regulates your energy levels by storing and releasing sugars

Helps fight infections in your body

To keep your liver in tip-top shape, so it can do all the heavy lifting your body needs:

Eat a balanced diet

Exercise regularly

Use alcohol responsibly

Ask your GP for a liver check

  • Liver disease (to link)
  • Alcohol and your liver (to link)
  • Preventing liver disease (to link)
  • Living well with liver disease (to link)
  • Other diseases and the liver (to link)
  • Liver health FAQs (to link)

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