Love your liver, love your life

Fall in love with your liver this January

It’s Love Your Liver Month!

For many, following the excesses of the Christmas and New Year celebrations, this initiative could not come at a better time.

The liver is the largest gland and the largest solid organ in the body, weighing about 1.8 kg in men and 1.3 kg in women. It holds approximately 13% (about one pint or just over half a litre) of your total blood supply at any given time and has over 500 functions.

Read all about your wonderful liver and what it does here.

Here are some easy ways to fall in love with your liver – and your liver will love you right back.

Alcohol: too much alcohol can cause your liver serious and lasting damage, e.g. cirrhosis. Love your liver by drinking no more than 14 units a week. Take three days off alcohol every week to give your liver a chance to repair itself and avoid alcohol if you are pregnant or trying to conceive. There’s a great app to help you and you can also take part in Dry January.

Fatty liver: your liver processes most of the nutrients and fats in the food you eat. If you are overweight, you increase the risk of getting non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which over time can cause lasting liver damage.

Help your liver to work properly by:

  • Eating a healthy balanced diet and drinking plenty of water
  • Eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (your five a day), reducing portion sizes and cutting down on your fat and sugar intake
  • Taking regular exercise - aim for a total of 30 minutes a day or 150 minutes a week. Find something you enjoy doing
  • Swap snacks for healthier options, e.g. mixed nuts or fruit.

Diet and exercise have the best effect on your liver health - making long-term changes that you can keep up is better than losing weight quickly.

Viral hepatitis: blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis B and C can cause permanent liver damage and increase the risk of liver cancer. Hepatitis A and E are spread by faecal-oral transmission (usually through contaminated food or water). Avoid these viruses by:

  • Getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and B when travelling abroad (there is no vaccine for hepatitis C or E)
  • Never sharing personal items like toothbrushes, razors, nail scissors or tweezers
  • Practising safe sex
  • Using only licensed tattoo and piercing parlours and making sure all equipment used has been sterilised
  • Always using clean needles, syringes and other equipment if you use drugs.

If you feel you may have been at risk of contracting viral hepatitis at any time then visit your GP and get tested. If you had a blood transfusion before 1991 for any reason then the blood may not have been screened for viral hepatitis - visit your GP for a blood test. Take the screen to see if you are at risk.

Read more about the types of liver disease.

Find out more about the campaign

Watch the video