Over the festive season, you may have had your fair share of alcoholic beverages. This month the charity Alcohol Concern is promoting Dry January, a campaign to encourage people to not drink alcohol throughout the entire month of January. Campaigns such as Dry January have proven to be successful; a recent study concluded that those who took part in abstinence challenges such as Dry January were more likely to adopt healthier drinking habits even up to six months after the challenge (de Visser et al, 2015). But you don’t necessarily need to take part in Dry January to keep your liver healthy.
The campaign ‘Love Your Liver’ by the British Liver Trust encourages individuals to follow three simple steps in order to help keep a healthy liver. Following these steps is a great way to start off the New Year, keeping your liver healthy and also enabling you to enjoy yourself at the same time.
Step 1) Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can have long term damaging effects on your liver. Reduce damage to your liver by drinking within the safe limits. The safe limit for women is 2-3 units per day and for men, 2-4 units per day. If you’re not sure many units you are currently consuming, Alcohol Concern have a useful calculator on their website that works it out for you.
Taking three alcohol free days a week is also a good idea as having a break from alcohol will allow the liver time to repair itself. The British Liver Trust has introduced an app called ‘Spruce’ which helps people to drink less frequently.
Step 2) Fatty Liver
Cutting down on alcohol isn’t the only way to keep your liver healthy. Decrease your risk of Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by following a healthy balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables and reduce your saturated fat and sugar intake. Taking regular exercise can also be beneficial for your liver, aim to take 30 minutes each day.
Step 3) Viral Hepatitis
Viruses such as hepatitis cause damage to the liver and can increase ones risk of liver cancer. Make sure to get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B particularly when travelling abroad to high risk areas and avoid sharing personal items.
de Visser, R.O., Robinson, E. and Bond, R., (2015) Voluntary Temporary Abstinence From Alcohol During “Dry January” and Subsequent Alcohol Use. Health Psychology: official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association.