It is well known, at least in the nutrition communities, that alcohol consumption is harmful to the liver. Alcohol affects the chemicals in your body that are responsible for breaking down scar tissue, making it less effective. As a result, those who consume large amounts of alcohol often end up with a significant buildup of scar tissue in their liver. This tissue replaces normal, healthy cells and can eventually lead to organ failure.
So, yes, drinking alcohol harms your liver and overall health. What if by drinking other substances you could actually improve your liver health? We talked to a few dietitians about the best eating habits for a well-functioning liver. Here’s what they had to say, and for more eating tips, here are 6 eating habits for a healthy gut as you age.
This one may seem basic, but it is crucial. Water is important for overall nutrition, but according to Jamie Feit, MS, RD, owner of Jamie Feit Nutrition, LLC and expert at Testing.com, it is especially essential for liver health by improving bodily functions and reducing your risk of disease. . Drinking water or even seltzer water will do the trick, Feit says. Whichever way you choose to get your water intake, Feit advises making sure you’re drinking half your body weight in ounces of water daily.
Dr. Rashmi Byakodi explained that according to studies, coffee has some pretty amazing hepatoprotective properties – simply put, that means coffee has the ability to protect your liver. Research shows that drinking coffee can prevent malignant liver conditions and chronic liver disease, and coffee has also been shown to reduce the risk of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis.
If you’re not a coffee fan, however, don’t worry – thanks to the catechins in green tea extract, the tea has also been shown to improve liver fat and inflammation. It does this by reducing oxidative stress. Start sipping!
Could beets be the next big juice fad? We’re not sure, but the experts we spoke to are convinced that beet juice is a powerful player in the quest for a healthy liver.
Nutrition and dietetics expert Dr. Dimitar Marinov says beet juice is “arguably the most antioxidant-rich drink you can find.”
It’s packed with a very specific type of antioxidants called betalains, which are known to support liver health and reduce oxidative damage and inflammation.
Dr. Byakodi echoes Marinov’s suggestion, adding that beet juice has actually been shown to alter indicators related to types of liver damage caused by alcohol.
There’s one thing that water, coffee, green tea, and beet juice have in common: they don’t contain alcohol.
As Dr. Marinov explains, “Contrary to what we have always believed, there is no safe amount of alcohol, and drinking alcohol in moderation is certainly not healthy.”
He cited a new study published by JAMA Network, which confirmed that all alcohol is unhealthy, overturning the belief that alcohol consumed in moderation may be linked to a longer lifespan. The study also reiterated that the liver is definitely one of the most negatively affected organs when drinking alcohol.
Alcohol is not the only enemy of the liver. Dr. Marinov indicates that sugar is another main factor in liver malnutrition. When you eat too many sugary carbs, they can’t be stored efficiently and the liver starts turning glucose into fat. When these fats begin to accumulate in the liver, the organ can become diseased. So even if you cut back on the alcohol, that sugary mocktail could still cause liver function problems.