Liver Health: Shining Light on the Silent Organ

by Nirah Johnson Patient Expert

Why should we care about liver health? Because you might not know you have a problem until it's too late.

In many cultures the liver is considered to be the center of the human body. And indeed it is! The liver silently performs hundreds of functions to keep us going every day. Because the liver does not contain nerves, it does not usually feel pain, even when suffering. For this reason, liver problems often go undetected until advanced stage disease, which can be too late.

Because the liver is the Silent Organ, we must proactively assess and protect our liver health to prevent chronic inflammation of the liver (hepatitis), which can lead to heavy scarring of the liver tissue (cirhossis) and liver cancer.

5 Tips for a Healthy Live. Ask your doctor about the health of your liver. Open up the conversation! There are simple liver function tests that can give you useful information about the condition of your liver.

2. Reduce or eliminate alcohol. Alcohol is very hard on the liver; the less you drink the better. If you have any form of hepatitis or other serious health condition, alcohol can make things much worse. Learn tips for cutting down at Rethinking Drinking

3. Maintain a healthy body weight. Extra weight can cause fat to build up in the liver, which can cause lead to liver damage.

Eating a healthy diet of vegetables, whole grains, healthy oils and fresh water can support liver health. Organic green tea and coffee have been found to be beneficial to liver health.

Staying physically fit through walking, dancing, taking the stairs -- or any fun movement -- can help your liver. Get those daily steps up!

4. Get screened for Hepatitis B and C, if you are at risk.** Hepatitis B** is a virus transmitted through blood and sexual fluids. People born in a country of the world where Hep B is common should be tested. There is treatment for Hep B. There is also a vaccine against Hep B, which is recommended for all infants at birth, and people at risk including people who live with, or have a sexual partner with Hep B.

Hepatitis C is a virus transmitted through blood. People born between 1945 and 1965 -- Baby Boomers -- should be tested. There is treatment and a cure available for Hep C.

Take the online CDC Risk Assessment for more details.

Both Hep B and Hep C can lead to liver damage. Early identification is important to protect your liver health. Ask your doctor for the test if you are at risk.

5. Avoid toxins.

Any toxin we put in our body - through our skin, nose, or mouth – can stress the liver. This includes: cleaning fluids, pesticides and artificial colors or flavors in food or drinks, chemical hair treatments, drugs, cigarettes and much more. Some over the counter medications are hard on the liver. Read your labels and try to select natural or organic options.

Your liver health is in your hands!

Nirah Johnson
Meet Our Writer
Nirah Johnson

Nirah Johnson, LCSW, Director of Program Implementation & Capacity Building NYC Health Department, Viral Hepatitis Program serves as the lead organizer of the NYC Hep B Coalition and Hep C Task Force since 2007.