Keeping your liver healthy is vitally important because it’s responsible for so many critical processes in the body. Alcohol is toxic to the liver. Unfortunately, you may not be aware that your liver function has declined until substantial damage has already occurred. Here are 5 tips to reduce alcohol induced liver damage.
Overtime, alcohol can cause irreparable liver damage. It’s also a carcinogen and its consumption increases the likelihood of developing fatty liver disease, hepatitis, and cirrhosis. Of course, abstinence is the best solution, barring that there are ways to lessen alcohol’s damaging effects.
How To Reduce Alcohol-Induced Liver Damage
1. Natural Herbal Remedies
One of the best herbs, and also the most extensively studied, is milk thistle. The active ingredient is silymarin, which is anti-inflammatory, and can actually reverse damage to liver cells.
This remarkable herb increases levels of the master antioxidant, glutathione, the body’s most powerful detoxifier. It’s also beneficial for the kidneys and gall bladder. Keep in mind, taking this herb is more of a short-term solution, and won’t allow you to drink excessively.
2. Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation
B vitamins are critical for energy production and help the body deal with stress. They’re also necessary for detoxification, taking liberal doses before a night on the town can lessen the effects of a hangover. Because alcohol creates widespread nutritional deficiencies and is inflammatory, concentrating on eating nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods can mitigate damage as can minimizing high-glycemic foods for two or three days after drinking to balance blood sugar levels.
Mineral supplementation, especially magnesium, will help metabolize acetaldehyde produced from alcohol. Acetaldehyde is a neurotoxin and is damaging to the brain. Alcohol depletes glutamine which can negatively impact brain function. A glutamine rebound can occur after you stop drinking, making your brain feel wired, but your body sluggish and tired, resulting in a hangover. Taking a glutamine supplement will dampen this rebound effect.
3. The Type of Alcohol Matters
Hard liquor is better than beer or wine from a blood sugar standpoint. Beer and wine contain more carbohydrates and sugar than does hard liquor. Distilled vodka is the best choice, and is a cleaner alcohol because the distillation process creates less acetaldehyde, a harmful metabolite in alcohol.
The more alcohol is distilled, the better. Distillation also lowers congeners, byproducts of fermentation, which are harmful to the liver. They also intensify hangovers. Colorless drinks contain fewer congeners, so opting for vodka or a gin and tonic, will make it easier for the liver to process the alcohol. The tonic water will further dilute the gin.
White wine is preferable to red wine because it contains fewer histamines, which are implicated in headaches. Dry champagne is better than the sweet version. Alcohol shuts down fat burning for two or three days after consumption so take it easy on high-carb foods, and be consistent with exercise, particularly if you’re trying to lose weight.
Drinking something easy to digest, like a low-glycemic meal replacement powder, before drinking will slow absorption rate and decrease the stomach irritation often triggered by alcohol. Your liver’s main priority will then be on metabolizing the alcohol instead of a heavy meal.
4. Green Vegetables and Hydration
Green drinks promote detoxification and may lessen the severity of a hangover. Cruciferous vegetables contain sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which are anti-inflammatory, regulate blood sugar, and aid in liver repair. The minerals in green vegetables rebuild electrolytes and balance pH levels.
They’re also helpful for alleviating hangover headaches. The most helpful are the bitter vegetables like kale, arugula, watercress, dandelion greens, and bitter melon. Greens help digestion and are essential for detoxification and repair, not only for the liver but the kidneys as well. Juicing is a great way to consume leafy greens.
Stay hydrated. Water is vital for liver detoxification. Alcohol is a diuretic and causes dehydration so focus on replenishing what has been lost. Drink a few sips of water for every sip of alcohol you drink to dampen the hangover effect. It may even decrease the amount of alcohol you drink.
5. Avoid Acetaminophen
Since acetaminophen is processed by the liver, staying clear of it for a couple days after drinking alcohol will lessen toxin overload. Alcohol increases the toxicity of Tylenol so never combine the two. Also avoid caffeine – it does not mix well with alcohol. Caffeine is a stimulant and may give you an inaccurate sense of not being as intoxicated as you really are, resulting in prolonged drinking.
Keeping your alcohol consumption to shorter periods of time will decrease damage to your liver. Drinking every Friday night, and then waiting a week, is far less damaging than drinking for three days in a row. If you’re going to continue consuming alcohol, at least put strategies in place to lessen the trauma on your liver.
This is a bonus tip. Binders, like activated charcoal, can adsorb (different than absorb) toxins and chemicals contained within alcohol, making them easier to eliminate. There are also claims that charcoal can lessen the effects of a hangover. Other binders include bentonite clay and takesumi supreme.
These are helpful to have on hand in cases of food poisoning. Keeping your bowels moving is important when drinking. Psyllium husk powder has a lot of fiber and is a great bulking agent to help facilitate this process, expediting toxin elimination. Your hangovers will be less intense if you detoxify your liver periodically.
Alcohol is a toxin. Listen to your body, be aware of how it affects you, and know what your upper limit is. The liver truly is a magical organ, and has the ability to repair and even regenerate itself. By implementing the tips above, it’s possible to mitigate alcohol’s damaging effects on the liver – if you drink sensibly.
Did you know you can reduce the toxic effects of alcohol? Let me know in the comments:)