Working in the detoxification industry, I always hear myths flying around. One such misconception is that liver damage is caused by too much alcohol. While consuming too much alcohol does increase the chance of liver diseases, there is another common cause of liver damage that many people are not aware of.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver damage is mainly caused by the liver storing too much fat. Symptoms are difficult to place, which is why it often is undetected for a long time. When it’s not treated, it can advance into nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (swelling of the liver) or cirrhosis (significant liver scarring), liver failure, and even liver cancer.
Many people who don’t drink (much) alcohol think they are safe from liver damage. But liver disease can develop in those who drink and those who don’t.
Myth 1: You can’t do much to prevent liver damage
I am a big believer in detoxification and protecting yourself against liver damage by living a certain lifestyle. Some ways to protect your liver:
- Restrict alcohol consumption. Like I wrote in one of my other articles on liver health, moderate alcohol consumption is generally measured as two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. Consuming alcohol in moderation helps you to take care of your liver and decrease the chance of liver damage.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Eat healthy and include liver-friendly foods. Also, incorporate exercise into your lifestyle to minimize your risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Know the risk factors. When any of the risk factors listed below apply to you, you should have a screening done regularly because liver diseases can be silent and therefore go unrecognized for years.
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Liver diseases run in the family.
Myth 2: Obesity doesn’t increase the risk of liver disease
I’ve noticed that many people don’t know the effect that obesity has on the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The liver can produce inflammation, which could lead to fibrosis and cirrhosis development. So just as limiting your alcohol consumption, it is just as essential to maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Myth 3: Liver damage is permanent.
This is a common misunderstanding and could not be further from the truth. The liver is unique in its capacity to bounce back after injury. If half of your liver is removed, your liver will restore itself almost entirely within a matter of months. So by maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise, you can reverse liver damage.
Myth 4: Cirrhosis only comes from heavy drinking
As mentioned earlier, while alcohol overconsumption is a very common reason for liver damage, there are many other factors that contribute to an unhealthy liver. Cirrhosis is a late stage of scarring of the liver caused by liver diseases. This scarring can be caused by multiple factors, such as hepatitis B or C. Or obesity, since cirrhosis is the end stage of the nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.